Several Redmond High swimmers crowded around the edge of the pool, loudly cheering and jockeying for a prime position to watch teammate Anamika Nanda shred through the water at the end of her 100-yard breaststroke race.
The Mustangs were pleased with the outcome, a first-place showing in a personal-best time of 1 minute, 13.08 seconds.
Furthermore, Redmond snagged the team victory over Eastlake, 111.50 to 73.50, in the two schools’ senior-recognition meet and Pink Out event for breast-cancer awareness at Redmond Pool, the home spot for both teams. Redmond switched to 3A KingCo last year, but the matchup with 4A KingCo Eastlake is still an eagerly awaited annual dual meet. The bleachers were packed and the screams of support and energy filled the building.
“It’s always my favorite meet. I really just love swimming against Eastlake. We’ve won every year that I’ve been on this team,” said senior Katelyn Harper, whose team finished 5-2 in league and 6-2 overall. “They’re really just like a great family. We’re not even really rivals, so it wasn’t even like you were competing. We were just having a good time.”
Harper took first in the 500-yard freestyle in 5:28.25 and hopes to qualify for state in that event, plus the 200-yard individual medley, over the next two weekends at the KingCo and district meets.
“I was really nervous today, ‘cause it’s the last meet before KingCo. It’s always really intense the last meet, but it was still fun,” said Harper, noting that she’ll train hard each day in practice to prepare for the qualifying meets.
Redmond senior diver Allison Chen has already qualified for state, and Harper and a host of Mustangs are bent on joining her at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way next month.
Senior Emily Whelan is one of those swimmers, who said she’s been working on her mental game the last four years and feels she’s in a good spot.
“As a senior, you have one more go, so some of the pressure kind of comes off a little bit,” said Whelan, noting that the girls will be tapering and working on their techniques to return to state.
Senior Kristen Harper is back in the pool this year after sitting out with a broken ankle last season and hopes to qualify for state in the 100-yard backstroke.
“I do think I am very able to make state,” she said. “I think it’s just the mentality, getting in the right mindset, getting tapered enough and just working hard enough for the next few weeks to get there.”
While the Redmond girls spoke about their state aspirations, Redmond Pool was still buzzing from the exciting meet with Eastlake. In the lobby, swimmers were chatting away and snacking on cake and other treats.
Whelan noted that it’s always a special time when the two teams meet.
Before the meet, the Redmond and Eastlake captains joined the teams to mingle and shout out a Red-Lake cheer.
“I think that’s pretty unique. We started it two years ago. We did it at state and I think a lot of teams were like, ‘What’s going on?’” Whelan said.
Whether it’s in individual or relay races during the Eastlake meet, Whelan enjoys the atmosphere.
“I love having everyone around,” she said. “When everyone’s cheering — and it gets really loud — it really brings out the best in everyone and the competitive spirit.”