As coach Julie Barashkoff stood nearby while two of her Redmond High swimmers discussed their squad, she smiled and beamed with pride.
Practice was done for the day and senior captains Anthony Nguyen and Ian Huang hung around the Redmond Pool to lend their insight on how to succeed in the water and in life.
The Mustang coach and her athletes came away from the experience with looks of satisfaction on their faces.
Barashkoff said their main goal is to be a team.
“To hear these guys talk about that’s their No. 1 goal, it makes me feel like I’m doing my job,” she said.
Nguyen added that the Mustangs are a goofy, crazy and energetic bunch.
“Everyone just loves each other,” he said. “That’s what I find most important in a team. Everybody is just putting their energy towards each other. In my opinion, that’s more important than making these (state) times and whatnot. It’s just about being a team.”
Nguyen is shooting to notch a state time in the 100-yard freestyle and be part of a state relay or two. The Mustang said he’s looking to display tenacity and strength and lean on the support of family members and teammates to push for state marks.
The 100 free has emerged as one of his stronger events during his seven years of swimming.
“I always found the 50 to be a little too short for me. I still had a lot of energy at the end of 50 and the 200’s just a little too long. At the 100 freestyle, it’s just that perfect distance of just speed and distance,” said Nguyen, who was a state alternate in the 400-yard freestyle relay last year.
The former WAVE Aquatics member has thrived in the Redmond High team setting for the last three years. Nguyen instantly felt acceptance from his new teammates and fit in perfectly with the hard-working and often wacky environment.
Huang returns to the pool after qualifying for state in the 400 free relay, 200-yard medley relay and 200-yard freestyle relay last season.
The captain has his eyes on the state relay scene again this time out.
“I really believe in the idea of strong individual effort for team success, and so just putting our hearts together and working hard to get that state time,” said Huang, who has been part of the Redmond High team for the last four years. He also formerly swam for WAVE Aquatics.
“I’ve gained a lot of self-confidence since joining this team,” he added. And with his teammates behind him, he’s motivated to continue his successful run with the Mustangs.
He’s been swimming competitively for five years, but remembers taking swim lessons when was really young. With a laugh, he noted that his mom said he needed to get more exercise and pointed him toward club swimming. He’s been in the water ever since.
It was a fairly smooth process jumping into the swimming world, however, Huang wishes he would have started earlier because he could be faster in his races.
Huang has achieved more at swimming than just solid times.
“The idea that you can keep improving and seeing yourself improve,” he noted about a benefit. “In a lot of other things in life, it’s hard to see whether or not you’re actually making progress, but here, even if you drop like .2 seconds, that’s really good. And even if you felt good about the race, that’s also a nice feeling.”
Other top swimmers are Jason Fu, a state qualifier in all three relays last year; Peter Fitch, a state qualifier in the 100-yard backstroke, 200 medley relay and 400 freestyle relay last year; Thane Suen, a state qualifier in the 200 freestyle relay last year; and Aidan Blackmon, a freshman, who has been impressive in the 50-yard freestyle and 100-yard butterfly.