This is the time of year when Maya Lawson-Rivera, a four-event swimmer at North Thurston High School for the past four years, tends to speed up.
Her coach, Heather Kincaid, has seen the process repeat each season.
“Usually when she has a specific goal in mind that she’s going for, it tends to be her pattern,” Kincaid said. “She’s been the same every year. She gets to districts and she’s faster.
“Then, at state, she’ll do one swim on the one day, and turn around and be even better on the next day.”
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Last season, Lawson-Rivera’s speedy progression landed her a pair of third-place finishes at the Class 3A state meet in the 200-yard individual medley (2 minutes, 9.06 seconds) and the 100 breaststroke (1:05.7). She holds North Thurston’s record in both races.
“She’s a mental kind of swimmer,” said Kincaid, who took over head coaching duties this season for longtime coach Jak Ayres. “She trains hard all year around. Some of it, I think, is she needs the extra competition, the extra hype behind it.”
There will be plenty of that this weekend.
Lawson-Rivera, a senior, is slated to compete in four events — the 200 IM, 100 breaststroke and as a member of the 200 medley relay and 400 freestyle relay — at the Class 3A state swimming and diving championships, which begin Friday at King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way.
“I think I’m swimming pretty well,” Lawson-Rivera said. “My times aren’t exactly where I want them to be, but they’re a lot better than they have been all season.
“So, I’m happy, and obviously I’m still progressing, so hopefully by state, I’ll be ready to go.”
That is usually how it goes.
Lawson-Rivera has been swimming competitively for more than a decade, and has spent a significant amount of time in and around pools.
She swims year around for Thurston Olympians Swim Club — which, this summer, punched her a ticket to the USA Swimming Futures meet at Stanford University. The meet featured premier athletes — including Timberline junior Hannah Barker, who will also swim at KCAC this weekend — from several western states.
She and is a lifeguard for Lacey Parks and Recreation.
During the school year, she supervises the pools at River Ridge, Timberline, and, of course, North Thurston.
She remembers watching her sister, Dana Lawson-Rivera, swim for the Rams.
“All year long, I’m in this pool,” she said. “It’s like my home. It’s like my home away from home.”
This week, Lawson-Rivera will wrap up her long career at North Thurston, and has yet to decide if she’ll continue her swimming career in college.
Her progression has been steady, again, this season, and she is on pace to finish well at her final trip to the state meet.
“I have pretty high expectations for myself, but that’s just how I am as a person in general,” she said. “Placing third last year gave me a standard to be at this year.”
Lawson-Rivera said the two-third place finishes last season surprised her. But, Kincaid, who has watched her each of her four seasons, has come to anticipate big performances.
“There’s sometimes where you’ll look up at the board and see the time, and it’s a little bit faster than you thought it was going to be, but that’s just how she swims,” Kincaid said. “She’s a big meet swimmer.”
WIAA Girls Swimming State Championships
Friday-Saturday, King County Aquatic Center, Federal Way
Schedule: Friday preliminaries — 4A at 9:45-11:45 a.m.; 2A at 2-4 p.m.; 3A at 6:30-8:30 p.m. Saturday finals — 4A at 9:30-noon; 2A at 2:15-4:45 p.m.; 3A at 7-9:30 p.m.
Tickets: Single-day passes are $10 for adults, $8 for students and senior citizens. Tournament passes are $16 for adults, $11 for students and senior citizens.
2015 TEAM CHAMPIONS
4A — Skyline. 3A — Lakeside of Seattle. 2A — Liberty of Issaquah.
RETURNING STATE CHAMPIONS
4A — Yulia Groysman, Newport of Bellevue, so. (200 free, 500 free); Nicole Limburg, Jackson, sr. (200 IM, 100 breaststroke); Emma Carlton, Mount Vernon, jr. (50 free); Jessica Wierzbicki, Wenatchee, sr. (100 butterfly); Willow Lopez-Silvers, Curtis, sr. (100 free); Emma Frey, Mount Vernon, jr. (100 backstroke).
3A — Cameron Smith, Seattle Prep, sr. (200 free, 500 free); Amber Chong, Lakeside of Seattle, sr. (diving); Mandolin Nguyen, Franklin, so. (100 breaststroke).
2A — Krista Wilson, Ellensburg, jr. (200 free); Taylor McCoy, Pullman, sr. (200 IM, 100 backstroke); Makenzie Norman, Cheney, sr. (50 free, 100 free); Yanran Le, Squalicum, jr. (100 breaststroke; Squalicum now at 3A level).
4A — When in doubt, bet on a Sea-King District school to emerge with a state title in 4A or 3A. In this case, Newport of Bellevue and defending 4A state champion Skyline are the favorites. A week ago at their district meet, the Knights edged Skyline, 309-253. Yulia Groysman was the 4A swimmer of the meet last year as a ninth-grader, but she figures to be heavily challenged in the 200 free by Skyline’s Sarah DiMeco. … If Willow Lopez-Silvers wants to repeat in the 100 free for Curtis, she likely will need something faster than her state-winning time of 52.39 a year ago. Inglemoor’s Gabrielle Dang comes in with the top time of 50:83.
3A — This could be an interesting title chase among Sea-King powerhouses Lakeside of Seattle, the defending state winner; Bellevue; and Squalicum, which is up to 3A this season. Lakeside and Bellevue have plenty of talented underclassmen while the Storm has senior Sydney Wong, the top seed in the 100 and 200 free, and Yanran Le leading the charge. … Cameron Smith, who signed with Arizona State University, is going for a fourth consecutive 500 free title. … Timberline’s Hannah Barker (200 free, 100 backstroke) and North Thurston’s Maya Lawson-Rivera (200 individual medley, 100 breaststroke) are two top locals contending for individual titles.
2A — All eyes will be on Taylor McCoy, who is vying to become the fifth girl to win eight career state individual titles. Her 56.10 in the 100 backstroke is the fastest time in the state. The last girl to accomplish that feat was Hockinson’s Julia Sanders in 2012. … Black Hills’ CeCe Pennella, the Southwest District diving champion, is the second-ranked diver entering the prelims behind Port Angeles’ Cassii Middlestead. Claire Barnard, a Tumwater sophomore, is seeded fourth.
Todd Milles: firstname.lastname@example.org