4A Swimming | Elite quartet poised for record-setting meet
Chelsea Bailey of Kentlake, Amber McDermott of Jackson, Andie Taylor of Skyline and Annemarie Thayer of Ballard take aim at several state-meet records this weekend in the Class 4A girls high-school swim meet in Federal Way, but don't expect their rivalry to get in the way of their friendship.
Special to The Seattle Times
Key 4A matchupsSaturday's best matchups (district times shown):
100 free: Bailey (50.17) and Taylor (50.67)
100 back: Thayer (54.90) and Bailey (54.99)
200 IM: Taylor (1.58.59), McDermott (2:01.50) and Thayer (2:03.77)
500 free: McDermott (4:46.68) and McDermott (5:07.04)
Scores & stats
Record breakers? Four girls who will race in the Class 4A state swimming and diving meet today and Saturday at King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way all sped by long-standing state-record times at district meets last week. One mark had stood 14 years, another 12.
Elite? Three in this group competed in the 2008 U.S. Olympic trials, and a fourth posted a qualifying time just one meet after the trials.
Fast? Coaches are buzzing that this speedy foursome, plus the presence of nine returning champions in the 4A meet, may make this the swiftest girls' state meet ever.
"It's going to be a smoking-fast meet," said Skyline coach Susie Miller.
Cutthroat competitors? Think again.
If the state meet awarded a Miss Congeniality tiara, this group — Chelsea Bailey of Kentlake, Amber McDermott of Jackson, Andie Taylor of Skyline and Annemarie Thayer of Ballard — would have to share it. And, of course, they'd do so happily.
Ballard coach Carlos Palacian has observed these swimmers up close and from afar. He's impressed on all levels by what he has seen.
"Once in a while you find a kid who is so fast they may have an attitude," Palacian said. "Not these girls. They're fast swimmers who are really great kids. When you see them go fast with class, it makes it that much more fun to appreciate what they do."
All four say they want to win (each is limited to two individual events at state), but also sound content to finish second. One reason: All are club swimmers, and all appreciate the long, long hours that go into that commitment.
Thayer and McDermott, swimming for Salmon Bay, have become best friends. Beyond the three to four hours they train together each day in the pool, they pal around, even get together for sleepovers. Thayer, in fact, spent Monday night at McDermott's home.
BFFs? Yes, yet they'll toe the same starting blocks Saturday in the 200 individual medley final. They'll also be joined by Taylor, the event's new state-record holder. Will this be the moment when love-thy-neighbor gets deep-sixed for demolish-thy-foe?
Nope. "I would be just as happy if they won," Thayer said. "They work just as hard as I do in practice.
"I see Amber dying during sets at practice like I do, working our butts off," she said. "I guess we're both pretty nervous for this meet. But whatever happens won't change our friendship."
McDermott agrees. "I'd like to come in first, but there's no guarantee I will," she said. "Any other place is perfectly fine with me. Any person who gets first deserves to get it as much as I do. There won't be any hard feelings."
Taylor and Bailey, both members of King Aquatic, are also good friends. They express the same kumbaya goodwill toward each other, even though Taylor, for the sake of variety (she owns back-to-back 200 and 500 free 3A crowns), is squeezing in on Bailey's sprinter's turf.
Bailey is OK with that. "I wasn't upset," the 6-foot-2 sophomore said. "Andie is my friend. Having good swimmers in a race always pushes everyone to do their best. Hopefully, the adrenaline will help us all go fast."
Ditto, says Taylor. "It's not like this is a rivalry," she said. "We're really good pals at the pool. I'm going to want to win, but afterward, whatever happens, we'll give each other a hug and go back to practicing."
McDermott even has to race against her older sister, Courtney, in the 500 free. No problem, Amber says.
"We both understand than she's smarter than me and I'm faster than her," she said of Courtney. "There's never been any conflict. We've never had any fights about it."
Drew Whorley, McDermott's coach at Jackson, figures everyone wins when so much closely matched high-level talent dives into the same pool.
"This is a great thing for high-school swimming," he said. "We have two girls who might go under 2 minutes in the 200 IM because they'll be pushing each other.
"A lot of people want to see this sport grow at the high-school level," he said. "This is how to do it: Get the very best talent in the state all in one place."
|Four Seattle-area swimmers eclipsed state records at Class 4A district meets last week, and Chelsea Bailey of Kentlake nearly set another mark.|
|Annemarie Thayer||Ballard||100 back||54.90||55.27 (2002)|
|Chelsea Bailey||Kentlake||100 back||54.99||55.27 (2002)|
|Andie Taylor||Skyline||200 IM||1:58.59||2:01.10 (1994)|
|Amber McDermott||Jackson||500 free||4:46.68||4:49.56 (1996)|
|Chelsea Bailey||Kentlake||100 free||50.17||50.16 (2003)*|
|* Set by 2008 Olympian Emily Silver of Bainbridge|
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