There are things no stat or time can quantify, such as Abby VonFeldt’s importance to Squalicum’s girls’ swimming team.
VonFeldt, a senior backstroke specialist for the defending Northwest Conference champion Storm, probably won’t contend for an individual state title this season.
If she stays on par with her performances from a year ago, she will contend for one of the eight positions in the finals of the 100 backstroke and 200 individual medley, but win them? She would be an improbable champion.
What she unquestionably is, though, is a veteran leader for a team that will vie for a state championship – a team that finished second last year to Pullman.
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“She’s holding everything together,” Squalicum coach Steve Gibb said in a phone interview. “She’s just real honest and willing to help, and sincerely concerned if (underclassmen) had any questions and tries to get to know everybody.”
Sportsmanship personifies VonFeldt, an elected team captain for the Storm who finished ninth in the 100 backstroke a year ago. If not for a disqualification, she would have finished 16th in the 200 IM, graciously accepting her fate and praising Shaye Fowler, VonFeldt’s teammate who got bumped up one spot due to her DQ.
Team, in every sense, comes above self for the senior.
“Our identity is that I really hope our team can come across as a team with a lot of sportsmanship no matter if we win a race or lose a race, or if we do better than we thought or do worse than we thought,” VonFeldt said in a phone interview, “... That we clap for every girl no matter whose team we’re on. That’s something that always strikes me when other teams do that. It always hits me.”
Squalicum has a handful of new faces this season, losing 100 freestyle champion Sydney Wong in the process. Two freshmen – Yanran Le and McKenzie Pham – have already caught Gibb’s attention, as well as Serena Allendorfer, a junior transfer from Illinois who is posting similar times to what Wong’s state title was.
And yet for all the talent, it’s VonFeldt who is the heartbeat of the team, Gibb said.
She’s also no slouch in the pool, providing a versatile swimmer who can swim most strokes at a high level.
“She’s consistently one of the best freestylers, and she fills in on relays,” Gibb said.
But where she thrives most is the backstroke.
VonFeldt employs a similar method to her pre-race routine: energy and excitement followed by a steady calmness when she enters the pool.
At the state meet in the 100 backstroke B final, the nerves were present. Her composure in such an event was, too.
“In order for me to do really well, I always have to get really pumped up,” she said.
Amongst the other racers, she recognized they were all wearing unique, performance-based swim suits while hers was Squalicum-issued and bland.
She proved she belonged, emerging from the pool at the King County Aquatic Center first in the B-main race with her fastest time of the year.
“I knew the practices coach had put me through and all my training would pay off,” she said. “I focused on the advice he gave me and stayed strong.”