Jetlynn Hau was determined to climb those final two steps atop the state podium.
After back-to-back third-place state medals as a freshman and sophomore, the talented Stanwood High School breaststroker didn’t want to fall short of the ultimate prize again. So, with her sights fixed on a state title last year, she upped her training regimen during the season, adding weightlifting to her already-busy schedule.
“I was really pushing myself (last) year, because I didn’t want to get third again,” she said. “I wanted to win.”
All the hard work paid off in a massive way. Hau captured the Class 3A state title in the 100-yard breaststroke last November with a winning time of 1 minute, 3.97 seconds.
“That was super, super exhilarating and gratifying,” she said. “I was so happy. It was like everything that I had worked for had just kind of come together.”
It also was a particularly special moment for the Stanwood girls swim program. With her state triumph, Hau became the school’s first-ever girls swimmer to win an individual state title.
“It was really incredible for our school and for our swim program,” Spartans coach Rita Peterson said. “Jetlynn is the type of athlete that really cares about all the athletes on the team. She makes an effort to get to know everybody on the team, so not only is she just an exceptional swimmer for us, but she’s really an overall team player. She’ll swim any event in a dual meet that needs to be swam to help the team out.
“I would say that her teammates wanted (the state title) for her just as badly as she wanted it.”
That was evident in her teammates’ reaction from the edge of the King County Aquatic Center pool. Hau wears prescription goggles and often struggles to see her time and placing on the board in those first few seconds after touching the wall. But after glancing up and seeing the excitement of her celebrating teammates, she immediately realized where she’d placed.
“I honestly didn’t even know what was happening until I looked up at my teammates,” she said, “and I could tell by the looks on their faces that I had won.”
Hau, currently the 13th-ranked senior recruit in the state according to CollegeSwimming.com, said she began taking swim lessons around age 3.
“I was taking lessons at the Marysville YMCA, mostly just because (my parents) didn’t want (me) to drown in the ocean,” she said. “I took YMCA lessons until around 8 years old, and then someone was like, ‘Hey, you should join a swim team.’”
Hau joined the Marysville-based Mighty Marlins Swim Club and has competed for the program ever since, developing into an elite swimmer along the way.
Peterson said Hau’s kick, in particular, is what makes her such a talented breaststroker.
“If you watch different breaststrokers, some of those girls across (the) eight lanes look very different in what they’re doing,” Peterson said. “You don’t see that much difference when you’re looking at backstroke or freestyle, but breaststroke has some really unique aspects to it, and girls have different parts of the breaststroke that’s more powerful for them.
“For Jetlynn, it’s her kick,” Peterson added. “She has a phenomenal kick. There is so much power behind what her legs are doing. … Jet’s kick is what propels her.”
Hau also excels in the 200 individual medley, having earned seventh-place state medals in the event each of the past two seasons.
“She’s an outstanding IMer,” Peterson said. “Most of the top IMers in the state are breaststrokers, but she’s (also) got a really fast butterfly (and) an efficient backstroke. … She’s able to take it out fast with the butterfly and backstroke, and then she’s in her element with the breaststroke.”
Like many elite prep swimmers, Hau has an especially jam-packed training schedule this time of year while juggling both club and high school swimming.
She wakes up early typically every day of the week for 5:30 a.m. club practice, then goes after school each day to either a two-hour high school practice or meet. Last fall, she also began weightlifting two nights a week.
“That really helped build my muscles,” she said. “… That was definitely a big part of (last year’s success).”
Peterson said Hau’s work ethic and success have encouraged other Stanwood swimmers to expand their training to the offseason.
“It was really inspirational and motivational for our swimmers,” Peterson said. “We had more swimmers make the choice to swim in the offseason this year and do some training, and those girls are already seeing the benefits. … So her influence is felt pretty deeply in the program.”
Peterson also said she’s been struck by Hau’s even-keeled demeanor.
“I’ve worked with swimmers who get really stressed about a bad time,” Peterson said. “They internalize it, and it’s a really hard thing to overcome when they felt like they were going to swim really well and then they didn’t. But with Jetlynn, she lets it fall off her shoulders.
“And that’s not to say she’s not disappointed with a bad swim, but it does not change her whole personality or persona at a swim meet. She can take a bad swim in stride just as easily as she takes a really good swim in stride. … There are not a lot of athletes at her level that I think take it in stride as well as she does.”
Hau, who said she plans to swim in college, took her first recruiting trip to Cornell University last week. But before she moves on to the next level, she’s focused on defending her state crown this fall during her final season with the Spartans.
“I really want to get the state title again this year,” she said. “That would be amazing, especially because it’s senior year. I want to go out with a bang.”
So far, Hau is off to a strong start.
“She looked incredible (last week) in both the IM and the breaststroke,” Peterson said. “She’s going times right now that she was going toward the end of the season last year, and so that all looks really great. … We’re excited to watch and to see what she’s going to do.”