At some school districts, the snowy weather wiped out a week of practice, which swimmers would have used to in preparation of the state meet.
The week before the state swimming and diving championships is a time when most swimmers are working with their coaches on race strategy as they get ready to compete against the best in the state.
But what happens when nearly a foot of snow makes that preparation impossible?
It’s not a problem the Puget Sound area often faces, but it happened this year as the weather forced schools to close and extracurricular events to be postponed or canceled because of unsafe driving conditions.
“That’s really what this last week was supposed to have been about,” said Kaycee Taylor, the coach of the two-time defending Class 3A state champion Bainbridge Spartans. “Race strategy, who is going in which lineup, looking to see what other schools are doing. After districts, we would’ve known, scouting the other teams, who is going into state and what they were going to be doing time-wise. It’s a lost opportunity, for sure.”
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Many teams lost precious practice time leading up to the state meet, which began Friday with the preliminaries at King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way.
The weather did cause a disadvantage, but for the most part, it was the same disadvantage for everyone.
“We kept saying, everybody is in the same boat as we are,” Taylor said. “I think for everyone else, it’s basically the same. You’re out for three or four days, and you just have to make the best of it.”
Missing so much time, much of the responsibility to get ready fell on the swimmers.
“A lot of it became mental training and stretching or doing what we can like working out,” Bainbridge junior Max Eyrich said. “Taking on your individual approach for the team, making sure that you are there committing yourself and being ready to compete and win for the team.”
The lack of time to prepare didn’t seem to bother the Spartans on Friday. They qualified first in nine of the 12 events and second in two others, giving them an excellent opportunity to win another state title.
“It’s a good spot to be in on day one,” Taylor said. “Obviously, the key is to do as well tomorrow because there are lots of fast swimmers here still.”
The final two weeks of preparation for state was just as crazy for the Jackson Timberwolves. Jackson had practices canceled Feb. 4-5, practiced Feb. 6 and went into the district meet the following day.
The Timberwolves thought the first day would be preliminaries with the finals on Saturday. They learned before the event that the finals would be held that day because of the threat of more snow. That snow came the following day and the Timberwolves were unable to practice again until Wednesday.
“From a coaching standpoint, you’re now adjusting to what they’re doing as opposed to this is what we do,” Jackson coach Drew Whorley said. “There is a little bit of a role-reversal. It’s just such a unique situation.”
While the weather impacted everyone’s preparation the same way, Whorley said it could impact the teams at the state meet in different ways — and he hopes his team, which is younger than in previous years, might benefit from that.
“They just have a lot of energy,” Whorley said. “I think it will (help them). I think this time would be a little bit more trying with a more experienced, senior group. Maybe that’s just what I’ve got to tell myself right now. I’ve got no idea what’s going to happen, but I’m excited to see it.”