Snohomish swimmer Mary Clarke poses in front of the school’s record board Oct. 23 at the Snohomish Aquatic Center in Snohomish. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

Snohomish swimmer Mary Clarke poses in front of the school’s record board Oct. 23 at the Snohomish Aquatic Center in Snohomish. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

Record-holder Clarke leads Snohomish with talent, dedication

Panthers senior Mary Clarke is ready for the final postseason run of her decorated prep career.

Snohomish standout senior Mary Clarke has one more postseason run left in her high school swimming career to build on the impeccable resume she’s already accumulated as a Panther.

The University of Pittsburgh commit has attained many of the goals she’s strived to reach. School records, district-meet records and state titles are all part of the full experience she’s had in her four years at Snohomish.

“She’s always positive. I don’t think that can be understated,” said Panthers coach Jenny Service, who took over as head coach in 2020. “She’s always working hard and always encouraging her teammates, she’s always pushing herself to be a better person. Our team values are positivity, unity, family, drive and dedication. … She really just always has those and demonstrates those five qualities every day.”

Clarke’s ability in the freestyles has been what’s set her apart on the school record boards, which sit inside the Snohomish Aquatic Center. She holds program records in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle events, as well as the Class 3A District 1 championship meet record in both.

As a sophomore in 2021, Clarke swam the 50 freestyle in 23.51 seconds to claim the state title at the 3A state championship meet. She also placed second in a photo finish in the 100 freestyle.

Last fall, the USA Scholastic All-American collected second-place finishes at state in the 50 and 100 freestyles, swimming the 50 freestyle in 23.42 seconds and the 100 freestyle in 51.13 seconds.

Mary Clarke of Snohomish High School is awarded a medal for taking second in state in the 100-yard freestyle during the Class 3A swim and dive championships on Nov. 12, 2022, at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Mary Clarke of Snohomish High School is awarded a medal for taking second in state in the 100-yard freestyle during the Class 3A swim and dive championships on Nov. 12, 2022, at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Clarke’s postseason path begins next week at the 3A District 1 championships, which run Nov. 1-4 at the Snohomish Aquatic Center.

“I’m really excited,” Clarke said. “It’s a little bittersweet just because this will be the last time I’ll be swimming at districts and swimming at state for high school. I’ve really loved the last three years I’ve been able to swim on the team and this year’s been the same. I have some really big goals and I’ve been working really hard to reach for them, so I’m ready to see what will happen.”

Clarke puts in time year round with the Bellevue Club swim team in addition to her role leading Snohomish, which went 7-1 this season.

Clarke invests about 20 hours a week to her practice regimen during the season in order to put herself in peak form at the apex of competition stages.

“The amount of hours that she puts into club swim and what we ask of her at the high-school level is tremendous,” Service said. “She’s really put it together. Every year, she’s probably added in more hours for how much she trains. She really has made a point of dedicating any free time to focus on swimming.”

Snohomish’s Mary Clarke swims the 100-yard backstroke during an early season meet between Snohomish and Lake Stevens on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2023, at the Snohomish Aquatic Center in Snohomish, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Snohomish’s Mary Clarke swims the 100-yard backstroke during an early season meet between Snohomish and Lake Stevens on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2023, at the Snohomish Aquatic Center in Snohomish, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

At the collegiate level, Clarke has high expectations for herself as a Division-1 swimmer. Her personal-best 100 freestyle finish of 49.80 seconds, which was set at the Speedo Sectionals in Federal Way in March, would have ranked as the second-fastest swim of any Pittsburgh women’s swimmer last season.

Clarke said she plans to pursue an education in exercise science and physical therapy at Pittsburgh while continuing her development as a college swimmer.

“The new head coach there, Chase Kreitler, he’s really been improving the culture of the team,” Clarke said. “… They’ve already broke two of their relay records this year at a mid-season meet, which is incredible. So, to see some of the progress was definitely a green flag for me. I know that’s he’s going to be able to push me and help me reach the goals I want to reach, which is potentially competing at the national level in college.”

As for her legacy at Snohomish, Clarke’s school records are elite enough to potentially stand for quite a long time, but she still wants to continue adding to it this postseason.

“Obviously, I’ve put up some times on that record board that I’m really proud of. Initially, I think that’s something people might recognize.” Clarke said. “But, I also hope that my effort and how much work I put into my swimming career is something that pays off (and) that is shown throughout the years. .. I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t love it, so I hope that what I’ve achieved is a reflection of that, and when people come swim on Snohomish that they’re inspired by that.”

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