High School Sports

After years of training indoors, she’s ready to swim into the sunlight

Squalicum’s Syndney Wong, top, tries to stay ahead of Bellingham’s Maddie Gillman in the 500 freestyle during a 2013 meet at Arne Hanna Aquatic Center. Wong on Tuesday signed her national letter of intent to attend the University of San Diego.
Squalicum’s Syndney Wong, top, tries to stay ahead of Bellingham’s Maddie Gillman in the 500 freestyle during a 2013 meet at Arne Hanna Aquatic Center. Wong on Tuesday signed her national letter of intent to attend the University of San Diego. The Bellingham Herald

Not that Sydney Wong has minded training and competing inside the friendly environs of the Arne Hanna Aquatic Center, but she can’t wait to get out.

And by out, she means outside.

“I just love the sun,” the Squalicum High School and Bellingham Bay Swim Team standout said. “I think it uplifts everyone.”

Wong will get as much sunshine as she can handle, as Tuesday she signed her national letter of intent to compete for San Diego in NCAA Division I at a ceremony following practice.

The Storm senior said she’ll need to make sure to bring her tinted swim goggles, as the Toreros train and compete outside on campus.

“I just love the sun,” Wong said. “It just makes everyone in a better mood. The team was super positive – it was a really positive environment overall.”

That environment persuaded Wong to choose San Diego over offers from Pomona College, Kenyon College, Oregon State, Idaho and Fordham.

“Really, it was everything about the school,” Wong said. “I love the school itself and the team and coaching staff and the atmosphere. Everything just felt like home.”

Wong said she plans to major in biology or biochemistry to prepare for med school, and San Diego provides the perfect mix between academics and athletics.

“I think every athlete aspires to go D-I, but that really wasn’t the case for me,” Wong said. “My top three, one was D-I and the other two were D-III. I was hesitant because most Division I schools are bigger. But when I got to USD, I realized they have smaller class sizes.”

Having a rising swim program didn’t hurt Wong’s decision, either. Coach Mike Keeler is in his 19th season, and Wong said he already has five commits for next year.

Wong is coming off a Class 3A state title in the 100-yard freestyle Saturday. She also anchored the sixth-place 200 free relay team and led off the ninth-place 400 free relay.

With Bellingham Bay Swim Team, Wong was part of the winning 400 medley relay team at Speedo Sectionals, and she will travel with the team to compete at the Winter Junior Nationals next month in Austin, Texas.

Whatcom County Class of 2017 signings

Athlete

School

Sport

College

Emily Holt

Lynden

Soccer

Central Washington

Elisa Kooiman

Lynden

Basketball

Northwest Nazarene

Whitney Walker

Ferndale

Softball

Texas A&M Kingsville

Ruby Watson

Sehome

Cross country/track

Rice

Drew Westford

Ferndale

Softball

Fairfield University

Sydney Wong

Squalicum

Swimming

University of San Diego

NOTE: To report a Whatcom County student athlete who has or will sign national letter or intent to continue their athletic careers next year, call 360-715-2271 or email sports@bhamherald.com.

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