Practices are a little crowded this fall at the Sequim YMCA.
For Sequim head coach Sarah Thorson, that’s (mostly) a good thing.
Expecting a turnout of at least 20 swimmers, the first-year varsity coach has 24 in the pool of varying levels, from state and district qualifiers to those brand new to the sport.
“They’re surprising me with how hard they’re working,” Thorson said during a preseason practice.
With a group of more than a dozen returning swimmers — nine of them sophomores — and a group of newcomers that includes two exchange students, Thorson has plenty of athletes to fill our her roster as the Wolves look to improve on their 2018 campaign.
Sequim went 4-2-1 last fall and finished 11th overall at the state 2A meet, but look to replace three of their five top swimmers. The Wolves lost Jasmine Itti and Heidi Schmitt to graduation as well as Sonja Govertsen, whose family moved from the area.
Govertsen qualified for state in two individual events last season, placing seventh in the 50 free, while Itti competed in two state relays and Schmitt in one.
Back, however, is sophomore Mia Coffman, who raced to a pair of top-five finishes at the state meet, as well as Sydney Swanson, who competed in last year’s state meet in the 200 medley relay.
Team captains this fall are seniors Swanson and Morgan Cariou and junior Eislyn Flood.
Thorson said that while the Wolves are looking to win each meet, “bettering themselves is the most important thing.”
Competition in preseason practice is healthy, she said, with a number of athletes vying for top varsity spots. In a recent practice, Thorson said her faster group of swimmers were so efficient she added an extra 1,500 meters, and that they clocked 5,000 meters at a recent practice lasting one hour, 45 minutes.
“Everyone wants to be in the top two relays,” Thorson said. “(That lineup) could change every meet.”
With several freshmen brand new to swimming, Thorson is having assistant Cherise Seser work with newcomers. The hardest thing for them to adjust to, Thorson said, is building up endurance.
“Learning the strokes is hard (too),” Thorson said. “Everyone at some point will try all of the strokes.”
In addition to a healthy-sized team, Sequim this fall is sharing the YMCA pool on Fifth Avenue with the Port Angeles High girls swim team, who are practicing in Sequim because of major renovations at the William Shore Memorial Pool. During non-meet days, Sequim swimmers swim on their own for an hour, then share the pool with Port Angeles for an hour before the Roughriders get lane space for an additional hour.
Thorson said the schedule is working out well for both teams.
The Wolves get some strong competition in their own league, including defending state 2A champ North Kitsap (7-0 in league meets in 2018), Port Angeles (6-1, third at state) and Olympic (4-2-1, ninth at state).
Sequim opened the season Sept. 10 at Olympic — results were not available at press time.
The Wolves are at Kingston on Sept. 12 before hosting Port Angeles on Sept. 19 and Port Townsend on Sept. 26.