That’s the word Drew Whorley used to describe Amber McDermott’s record-breaking performance in the 500-yard freestyle on Nov. 15.
Whorley, Jackson High School’s swim coach, was among hundreds of delightedly stunned fans who watched McDermott demolish her own state record in the event during the 2008 state girls swimming and diving championships at King County Aquatic Center.
The sophomore’s winning time of 4 minutes, 41.98 seconds was nearly five seconds faster than the record she set Nov. 8 at the District 1 meet. Before last weekend the state record was 4:49.56, set in 1996.
As McDermott neared the end of her 10th (and final) lap, the crowd roared louder and louder, realizing the significance of her feat.
“This place came alive,” Whorley said. “It was so cool to see everyone — regardless of what team shirt you’re wearing — come together and support and cheer for another great performance.”
McDermott was named the Class 4A swimmer of the meet and helped Jackson win the program’s first team state title. This year, for the first time, McDermott and her sister, junior Courtney McDermott, swam for Jackson. Previously they competed only for a club team.
High school swimming is more meaningful in some ways, Amber McDermott said.
“There’s a little bit more excitement in the room because in club swimming it doesn’t really matter about (team) points. It’s all about individual times,” she said. “Here it’s like every single point counts, every single time counts. Everything’s really intense.”
McDermott’s historic victory in the 500 freestyle dazzled Whorley. McDermott had been training all season to cut her time to 4:45 at state, Whorley said, but McDermott blew that away by more than three seconds.
“People that don’t follow swimming — I don’t think they understand the significance of four seconds under what you’ve been training and paced for the entire year. That swim was just special,” Whorley said.
Among other local 4A swimmers, Snohomish’s Emily Ferreira placed third in the 100-yard breaststroke, the event she won in 2007. Ferreira, a junior, had the fastest preliminary time Friday and led after one lap in the final. But Garfield’s Maddy Morgan and Redmond’s Heather Harper surged into the lead and tied for first place. Ferreira’s time was 1:04.75, less than two-tenths of a second slower than the co-winners.
“They were all pretty even coming into the last 25 yards. Sometimes you can have a really good effort and somebody else can have an even better effort,” Snohomish coach Rob Serviss said.
The defeat will be a good motivator for club season and the 2009 high school season, Ferreira said.
In 4A diving, one more year equaled one spot higher for Sarah Clark. Clark, a junior at Marysville-Pilchuck, scored 352.2 points and placed fourth. She scored 34.3 points more than her total from a year ago, when she was fifth.
Archbishop Murphy capped its first season with several 2A top-8 individual performances. The Wildcats finished ninth in the team standings.
“The kids really came together,” Murphy head coach Mike McCloskey said.
Murphy sophomore Amy Renslo was second in the 100 butterfly and sixth in the 200 individual medley. Her teammate Katie Main, a senior, placed third in the 500 freestyle and sixth in the butterfly. Last year Renslo competed for Marysville-Pilchuck, Main for Jackson.
Of the 29 swimmers who swam for Murphy’s inaugural team, just six had used a racing block, McCloskey said. But the Wildcats overcame inexperience and had fun in spite of daily 6 a.m. practices, he said.
“It was the group of girls that gave us the excitement. We didn’t lose a swimmer the entire season,” McCloskey said.
The coach praised Murphy co-captains Main and Chrissy Shuh for providing great motivation.
Mike Cane writes for The Herald in Everett.