Sehome High School’s swim team is led by two seniors with very different styles, in the pool and out.
Brian Whitney and David Leung captain the Mariners as Sehome gets set for the Class 2A State Championship on Friday and Saturday at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way.
Whitney is seeded fourth in the state in the 50-yard freestyle and anchors all three of Sehome’s top-eight-seeded relays – the 200 medley, 200 freestyle and 400 freestyle. Leung is the sixth seed in the 100 butterfly and will jump-start the 200 and 400 freestyle relays and swim the butterfly portion of the 200 medley relay.
Whitney is the vocal leader and plays the role of coach in the pool. He’s been a big help to coach Don Helling, as out of 21 boys on the team, eight are new.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Bellingham Herald
“He really helps me reinforce what we do as a team and how we approach competition,” Helling said. “He’s good about working with new kids who don’t quite get it yet.”
Whitney has risen through the ranks in his time at Sehome. He started as a “lane one” swimmer as a freshman, which usually is reserved for inexperienced or slower swimmers. The underdog mentality has helped him in the pool and as a leader, where the team comes before everything else.
This year, Whitney could have competed in the 100 freestyle at state but chose to step out and do another relay because it has the potential to earn Sehome more team points.
“I swim so much faster when I know my team is counting on me,” Whitney said. “My team is my life.”
In a perfect contrast, Leung is the quiet, “lead-by-example” team captain. He’s a year-round swimmer who came into his own as a top state-level swimmer his sophomore year and has continued to improve.
While Whitney is the more muscular of the two, Leung has raw speed and skips across the water. Helling said he can pop blistering individual times and is a crucial part of the three relays.
Leung rarely shows his emotions, but Helling said every now and then, he cracks a smile. When Leung contributes to a good relay, it’s obvious he’s proud of it, Helling said.
At practice recently, Leung pulled out a deck of cards and started doing card tricks for the team.
“I didn’t even know he could do card tricks, and they were really good,” Helling said.
Sehome, Bellingham, Lynden and Blaine combined to qualify 21 individuals and relays for the 2A state meet. The preliminaries are scheduled to start at 2 p.m. Friday, with the finals at 2:15 p.m. Saturday.
Squalicum qualified four swimmers and divers for the Class 3A state meet, which will start with the 6:30 p.m. preliminaries Friday and conclude with the 6 p.m. finals Saturday.
Whatcom County state qualifiers
Diving: Wilson Dierdorff (Squalicum) 422.10, Gabe Kamkoff (Squalicum) 352.60
100 butterfly: Franz Allendorfer (Squalicum) 54.07
100 backstroke: Franz Allendorfer (Squalicum) 56.63*
200 medley relay: Sehome 1:45.45
200 freestyle: Payton Johnson (Sehome) 1:54.76, Ean Chalfie (Sehome) 1:56.30*
50 freestyle: Brisen Pearson (Bellingham) 21.54, Brian Whitney (Sehome) 22.84, Alexander Evans (Sehome) 24.27*
Diving: Brennan Drew (Bellingham) 372.65, Koa Hanks (Bellingham) 360.95, Rudi Berry (Sehome) 251.35*, Trey Herron (Sehome) 242.20*
100 butterfly: Brisen Pearson (Bellingham) 51.52, David Leung (Sehome) 53.72
100 freestyle: Rudi Berry (Sehome) 53.04, Ean Chalfie (Sehome) 53.28
500 freestyle: Payton Johnson (Sehome) 5:07.52
200 freestyle relay: Sehome 1:34.93, Lynden 1:39.39*
100 backstroke: Matthews Mak (Lynden) 1:00.47*
100 breaststroke: Eli Hill (Blaine) 1:07.03*, Christopher Lo (Sehome) 1:07.58*
400 freestyle relay: Sehome 3:30.76