High School Sports

Despite moving up to Class 3A, Squalicum swimmers expect to be heard from at state

Squalicum’s Yanran Le swims in a meet against Bellingham at Arne Hanna Aquatic Center.
Squalicum’s Yanran Le swims in a meet against Bellingham at Arne Hanna Aquatic Center. eabell@bhamherald.com

Squalicum swimmers Sydney Wong and Yanran Le have a lot in common.

They train and compete together on two teams, and both have set school records. This winter, both will head to a national tournament in Texas with several teammates on the Bellingham Bay Swim Team.

“We’re really close,” said Le, a junior. “We’re like best friends.”

Wong and Le will look to help the Storm to what it hopes will be a third-place finish at this year’s Class 3A State Championship this weekend at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way.

Squalicum coach Randy Elsner said Wong and Le are competitive people.

“Sydney, in particular, does not like to lose,” he said. “She’ll just push out and try to get everything she can to guarantee her or her relay’s success.”

Last week at the 3A Northwest District Championships, which the Storm won, Le won the 100 breaststroke with a season-best time but was hampered for one particular reason.

“She had her goggles around her neck, which – for a swimmer – is basically death,” Elsner said. “Trying to get through there, you’re blind; you’ve got water splashing (in) your eyes.”

The Storm competed for a state title last year in Class 2A, but the move to 3A was something Elsner was initially disheartened about, especially considering the Storm have one of the smallest teams in the classification.

“It was kind of a double-edged sword,” he said. “There’s a higher level of competition and stronger teams, but at the same time, (we realize) the opportunity that, ‘Hey, maybe this might be good for them, too.’”

Le and Wong have shown they’re capable of competing against swimmers at the larger schools. Wong enters state as the top seed in the 100 and 200 freestyles, while Le owns the fastest qualifying marks in the 200 individual medley and the 100 breaststroke.

In addition to being great swimmers, Wong and Le are 4.0 GPA students.

“They keep themselves very busy and try to keep working, and somehow manage to be at a high level throughout their entire schedule,” Elsner said. “I wonder when they have time to rest sometimes.”

Wong said she figures she averaged about five hours of sleep a night as a high school junior because of her schedule. This year, she isn’t as busy but still has a full plate, including about three to four hours of swimming per day.

“It’s very stressful,” she said. “I’ve made a lot of sacrifices as far as a social life and stuff. I spent a lot of nights staying up really late, doing homework and sacrificing sleep.”

Wong only spent her freshman and senior years on the Squalicum swim team. She spent the other two years training and competing with BBST and has been swimming competitively since age 10. Next year, she’ll swim for the University of San Diego.

Le, meanwhile, has been swimming competitively since sixth grade. She said when she’s racing, the focus is usually very individual, at least until it’s not.

“Sometimes you can catch a glimpse of your competitor in the next lane, and I think that adds to the racing,” she said. “Sometimes it helps because it pushes you.”

With another year until she’s thinking seriously about which college to attend, Le has more time to focus on what’s right in front of her.

“Going to state is going to be different from past years,” she said. “Our assistant coach tells us she wants us to ‘tackle the 3A monster.’ I think it will be fun – a little more challenging – but I’m proud to say that, at the 3A level, we can have Squalicum’s name be heard, too.”

Elsner said the team is ready to see what they can do against bigger schools.

“I told them yesterday we’ve got a shot to be third, and they’re pumped,” he said. “That’s higher than I thought any of us thought coming in.”

Whatcom County state swimming qualifiers

Class 3A

200 MEDLEY RELAY

Time (Seed)

Squalicum

1:54.75 (12)

200 FREESTYLE

School

Time (Seed)

Sydney Wong

Squalicum

1:53.09 (1)

Kyrie Fairbairn

Ferndale

2:00.04 (20)

200 IM

School

Time (Seed)

Yanran Le

Squalicum

2:07.52 (1)

50 FREESTYLE

School

Time (Seed)

Tiana Varang

Squalicum

24.93 (6)

Ellary Boyd

Ferndale

25.36 (14)

DIVING

School

Time (Seed)

Helene Synnott

Squalicum

367.40 (7)

Jordan Cucksey

Squalicum

329.60 (12)

100 FREESTYLE

School

Time (Seed)

Sydney Wong

Squalicum

52.41 (1)

Kyrie Fairbairn

Ferndale

55.58 (22)

200 FREESTYLE RELAY

Time (Seed)

Squalicum

1:45.18 (16)

100 BACKSTROKE

School

Time (Seed)

Tiana Varang

Squalicum

1:01.24 (12)

100 BREASTSTROKE

School

Time (Seed)

Yanran Le

Squalicum

1:04.99 (1)

400 FREESTYLE RELAY

Time (Seed)

Squalicum

3:37.98 (3)

Class 2A

200 MEDLEY RELAY

Time (Seed)

Sehome

2:01.68 (12)

Bellingham

2:03.89 (14)

Lynden

1:54.16 (21)

200 IM

School

Time (Seed)

Chloe Steinkamp

Bellingham

2:24.09 (15)

Grace Kim

Sehome

2:28.75 (18)

Avey Bathum

Bellingham

2:29.23 (21)

DIVING

School

Points (Seed)

Emma Kenoyer

Bellingham

291.85 (6)

Maya Helms

Sehome

240.05 (16)

Kinsey Hjelseth

Sehome

209.80 (20)

100 BUTTERFLY

School

Time (Seed)

Kim Joyce

Sehome

1:07.05 (21)

100 FREESTYLE

School

Time (Seed)

Wanling Kratzman

Sehome

1:00.40 (20)

Laura Thompson

Sehome

1:00.76 (22)

500 FREESTYLE

School

Time (Seed)

Sarah Leung

Sehome

5:41.62 (9)

Celeste Rehm

Bellingham

5:53.66 (16)

Marianna Kemp

Sehome

5:53.67 (17)

200 FREESTYLE RELAY

Time (Seed)

Sehome

1:50.14 (15)

Bellingham

1:54.29 (22)

100 BACKSTROKE

School

Time (Seed)

Kim Joyce

Sehome

1:05.13 (14)

Miranda Blackburn

Sehome

1:07.87 (22)

100 BREASTSTROKE

School

Time (Seed)

Grace Kim

Sehome

1:10.09 (5)

Avey Bathum

Bellingham

1:13.78 (11)

Sarah Leung

Sehome

1:14.10 (12)

400 FREESTYLE RELAY

Time (Seed)

Sehome

3:59.79 (13)

Bellingham

4:11.07 (19)

SOURCE: WIAA.com

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