Bellingham boys’ swimmer Martin Sloley perfectly fits the oft-overused term of “all-around” swimmer.
His coach Jeff Anderson admits Sloley has the ability to qualify for state in every event. Alas, the junior can only compete in two individual and two relays at districts and state.
“Sloley has Ironman potential this season,” Anderson said in an email. “We’ll have to make choices of which events to focus on as the season progresses.”
A season ago, Sloley placed sixth in the 200 freestyle at the Class 2A Boys’ Swimming State Championships, finding the wall in just 1 minute, 52.11 seconds. He also finished ninth in the 500 freestyle with a time of 5 minutes, 7.06 seconds.
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It was an improvement over his sophomore season’s 10th and 11th-place finishes, respectively, in those races. He shaved five seconds off his 200 time in the course of a year while trimming his 500 time by 13 seconds.
Freestyle was certainly Sloley’s best event last year as he also swam legs in the 200 and 400 freestyle relays to help the Red Raiders place 15th as a team.
Although, Bellingham was only the third-best Whatcom County team finisher – behind Squalicum (seventh) and Sehome (eighth) – the Red Raiders return a cast of five state swimmers and a slew of 2015 state hopefuls ready to make some noise in the Northwest Conference.
The 6-foot-5 Sloley heads that class, boasting two seasons of state experience going into his junior year, and although Bellingham only went 2-3 in NWC dual meet play a season ago, the Red Raiders did boast a win over Squalicum and Archbishop Murphy in a three-team meet late January.
And of course it was Sloley leading the way that afternoon.
Not only did he win the 200 and 500 freestyle races, he was part of the 200 medley relay win for the Red Raiders. Sloley was able to do that while competing in back-to-back races twice — something he’s certainly used to as the “all-around swimmer” he is.
“It was three top-10 teams duking it out in one pool,” Anderson said at the time. “It was a lot of fun.”
Bellingham will get to experience a similar three-team meet this season, with Sedro-Woolley and Archbishop Murphy scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 18, at Arne Hanna Aquatic Center.
With a star in Sloley and plenty of depth on the Red Raiders squad, Anderson has plenty to be excited about.
“Our chances of finishing ahead of last year’s 15th place finish at state are very good,” Anderson said.
The most notable meets on the schedule are Squalicum on Jan. 15 and a week later against Sehome.
Last season, Bellingham narrowly lost to the Mariners 93-92, threatening to end Sehome’s 34-meet win streak. The Red Raiders were also on the wrong side of the a close one against the Storm, falling 94-92.
In each loss, Sloley managed to win two individual events, showing he has what it takes in pressure situations. Bellingham will need him to be at the top of his game against what are again two very tough NWC squads this season.