High School Sports

Success from the start: Squalicum freshman could contend for a title

Getting to state in 2A girls’ swimming is no easy feat. The season is long, the workouts are many — and sometimes early — and the competition is fierce.

So when a freshman qualifies for state, it’s a big deal. But Squalicum freshman Yani Le isn’t just qualified for state, she could contend for a title.

Le qualified with a 1 minute, 8.53 second 100 breaststroke. It’s the third best time in Class 2A and 1.01 seconds off the top time in the state.

She also qualified individually in the 200 IM with a 2:15.16.

“In the 200 IM I’m fifth, so my goal is to make the finals and maintain fifth,” Le said in a phone interview. “For the 100 breaststroke I’m third, but I’m off by a second, so I’ll fight for that (title).”

For Squalicum coach Steve Gibb, Le has been a bit of a surprise.

“Her times coming in (to the season) were such that I knew she’d be good, but she had good drops in her times,” he said in a phone interview. “In the 100 breast I think she was at 1:11 and now she’s down to 1:08. IM, I think she was at 2:24 or something, now 2:15. In the 100 free I think it wasn’t quite at a minute, but she’s done a 55 (seconds) split in relays. In everything she had big drops, you usually don’t see that.”

Le didn’t have a secret to her quick success in high school swimming, but she is also competing on a club team. Competing in high school was a bit of a different experience than what the club level had her used to.

“I’ve learned how to be a team more, like in cheering for teammates at meets,” Le said. “I’m pretty familiar with meets, but not the way they do it in high school, so the captains and older girls helped me. They told me how they work and how you’re supposed to walk out. I feel like there is less pressure during meets.”

She also is part of two Storm relay teams that qualified for state: the 200 medley and the 200 freestyle.

On medley, Le swims the breaststroke lap, which is second. She sees her role in that race as hanging onto and extending the lead, she said.

Gibb is proud of what she has accomplished this season, but is also very excited for her future with the team.

“You get your good freshmen coming up, like we had Sydney (Wong) last year, so it’s not unheard of, but it’s nice,” he said. “(Le’s) times might be a little better than the average star coming out their first year. She has a huge amount of potential. She has had some great improvement, I think it surprised her as well as me.”

Gibb complemented Le’s stroke and how relaxed she is as a swimmer. She’s very committed and has a strong work ethic, he said.

“I’ve been working on my stroke with my club team, too, so I think there has been some improvement there,” Le said.

Team-wise, Gibb thinks Le could have a strong showing, as well as Serena Allendorfer in the 100 freestyle. Allendorfer is just 0.36 seconds off of the top time in 2A in that event.

“Serena and Yani swim together and help each other out,” Gibb said. “They’re both top three in their main event, and that’s been a good mix. We hope the relays will be there (in the finals), too. We’re in the top 10 (as a team), but we hope to improve on that. This is one of the most cohesive teams in terms of getting along and helping each other out that I’ve had. They’re on the same page.”

The Class 2A Girls’ Swimming and Diving Prelims begin at 6:15 p.m. Friday, Nov. 14, at Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way. The finals will be the same venue at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 15.