For Audrey Shenkin, swimming is not an individual sport. After deciding to focus on club swimming with the Bellingham Bay Swim Team this year, Shenkin has seen the importance of her teammates.
"The times you get might be individual, but we are really bringing each other up," Shenkin said. "We are cheering for each other, motivating each other. Without one another, we wouldn't be as dedicated as we are."
The sophomore from Sehome High School chose not to swim with her high school team this year and focus on club swimming.
Because of her recent success, Shenkin also has moved up to regional and sectional competition.
"It's a lot more competitive, and the swimmers are a lot faster," Shenkin said. "It takes more to prepare and you have to race your hardest."
Sean Muncie, the BBST coach, said he has really seen an improvement in Shenkin's times.
Muncie said Shenkin is not only a good athlete, but that she is coachable and always puts in the effort on what needs to be worked on.
"She's one of those athletes that you enjoy watching in training," Muncie said. "She is always pushing herself, and you know she's working hard. She stays focused and is dedicated and is a positive force around her teammates."
Muncie said with her time drops, Shenkin is taking the first steps to qualifying for national competition.
More importantly, she is gaining the experience against top competition, which will help with the transition to national level events, Muncie said.
Shenkin last month won two events at the Northwest Regional short course championships in Federal Way. She finished first in the 100 freestyle with a time of 53.32 seconds and in the 200 freestyle in 1:55.61. She took second in the 50 freestyle in 24.74 seconds and fifth in the 100 butterfly in 59.76 seconds.
Those events have become her focus because, she said, she has seen the most improvement and the lowest times in them.
Shenkin credits much of this success to focusing solely on swimming. She has devoted more time to it than in the past and by swimming year-round with the Bellingham Bay Swim Team she has been able to put in more time.
She also credits her BBST teammates, saying they have really motivated each other this year and have grown close as a team.
Her goal is to swim at the college level, and Shenkin understands the work in front of her to get there.
The next step begins with the long course season beginning in the next few weeks and continuing through the summer.
Reach Kyle Elliott at email@example.com or 360-715-2271.