Sarah Norman gets the same thrill swimming in individual events as she does competing in relays with her teammates for Olympia High School.
Norman accounted for 23 of the Bears’ 27 points at the Class 4A state swimming and diving championships last fall with top-eight finishes in the 200-yard individual medley and 100 butterfly, yet was just as proud of being part of the 200 medley and 400 relay teams that missed making the finals.
“You’re more connected with the swimmers,” Norman said. “You usually get pretty good times when you’re in relays because you don’t want to let (your teammates) down.”
Norman, now a junior, made the state podium in the 100 butterfly (seventh, 58.90 seconds) and 200 IM (eighth, 2:12.17) and swam personal-best times over the weekend.
To reach the finals in the 200 IM — where a swimmer completes one length of the pool in each of the four strokes (butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle) — she swam her best race at the prelims a day earlier, setting a personal best by nearly four seconds to break the school record.
Kelli Jackson, a 1991 Olympia High
graduate, held the previous record. Jackson is considered the most decorated girls swimmer to come out of Olympia after winning six state titles, including the 200 IM in 1988 (2:13.26), before competing at the University of Washington.
Norman led after the first stroke — the butterfly — and said she gave it everything she had on her final leg — the freestyle — to make the finals, then learned her time after exiting the pool.
“I think I had it in me to improve (on my time),” Norman recalled. “I just didn’t know how much.”
Swimming notable times isn’t anything new for Norman, who had what would have been a state-qualifying time in the 100 butterfly when she was an eighth-grader at Washington Middle School.
Coach Mel Smith, in his seventh season coaching both the Olympia girls and boys swim teams, said Norman’s skills come from her long, lean strokes.
“She’s swam competitively for a long time,” Smith said, “and that certainly shows.”
Norman, who has competed in all events but the backstroke her first two years at Olympia, already has recorded postseason-qualifying times this season.
There will be two Normans on the 200 medley relay this year as younger sister Ali, a freshman who specializes in the backstroke and sprint freestyles, as well as freshman Maya Hansen-Tilkens join the quartet. Olympia has sent at least one relay to state each year since 2009.
“I think our teams will be good,” Sarah Norman said.
Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 email@example.com theolympian.com/southsoundsports firstname.lastname@example.org