The student news site of Puyallup High School

The Viking Vanguard

The student news site of Puyallup High School

The Viking Vanguard

The student news site of Puyallup High School

The Viking Vanguard

Swimmer Overcomes Slump

It was my sophomore year of high school, and I was losing interest in swimming. The sport that I had done for my whole life was, to me, starting to become stale and repetitive. I felt like I was at a plateau with my times and techniques and felt stuck where I was. 

I’ve been swimming competitively since I was around 6 or 7 years old. I started with the YMCA swim team, where we’d have small competitions regularly. In 2017, I started with my first official club team, the Fife Area Swim Team (FAST). I’d stick with that team for four years, barring a few months during COVID, but as I prepared for my freshman year, I realized my time with FAST was likely coming to an end for the near future. 

After a season playing with the water polo team, I finally started my first season of high school swim. I’d been looking forward to starting swim season, as I had gotten a lot stronger through water polo season and a lot of friends from water polo did swim team too. My first year went really well, and I was able to make it to Districts as a wildcard. However, instead of rejoining a club swim team, I went the route of club water polo. 

And frankly, I hated it. 

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I’d joined a team that was heavily focused on the higher-level players, while I was almost brand new to the sport. I struggled to keep up with the tougher exercises, drills and plays when I was still learning proper throwing and catching form.  

After I struggled with the team for an entire summer, I started my sophomore year of high school. I decided not to continue with the club team, since I would have a much bigger workload that year. However, after the fall water polo season was over, I started feeling lost. I barely got any playtime that year, and missed out on lettering by one point, even though I’d lettered in both swim and water polo my freshman year. 

I started my swim season mildly discouraged and continued like so throughout that season. My times weren’t getting much better and I felt like I was hitting some wall in my progress. Then, we got to postseason. At the Leagues meet, I somehow dropped 30 seconds in my 500 free (a huge time drop) and dropped seven seconds in my 200 free (an even bigger time drop). Those times got me to Districts, which was a big achievement for me, since I’d only gotten there by wildcarding in last year. 

In addition to my individual events, I was an alternate on our relay teams. This meant that, if the teams made it to State, I would get to continue to practice and attend the State meet, in case someone on the team got sick or injured.  

While I didn’t actually swim at State, that postseason reignited my drive for swim. I decided to start swimming on a club swim team again and focus exclusively on swim, rather than water polo. A key factor in that decision was realizing that ‘Hey, I was able to make State, I think I’m actually getting pretty good at swim.’  

I’ve continued to improve this year, and I hope to make State again, this time on the main relay team rather than an alternate. I’ve learned to push through the challenges in my life when I feel like I’m not improving, and to acknowledge when I’m doing well at something. 

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About the Contributor
Ethan Barker, ACE Editor
Ethan Barker is the ACE (Arts, Culture and Entertainment) Editor for the Viking Vanguard student newspaper at Puyallup High School. This year, which will be his second with the Vanguard and his junior year of high school, he hopes to improve his interviewing skills and work with the editorial team to investigate issues facing students. He consistently turns out reviews of blockbuster movies and shows, along with feature stories that focus on unique people and places. In addition to these, he enjoys playing guitar, swimming for PHS and his club team and reading the closest book he can get his hands on.

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