With only six upperclassmen and 10 freshmen swimmers on a team of 22, the Lindbergh girls swim team would have been forgiven if they had a less-than-stellar 2016 season, especially considering the switch to a new league this year.
Instead, the Eagles opened the season beating both Renton and Hazen in the schools’ traditional tri-meet. Then, in their league opening dual meet, Lindbergh crushed River Ridge 143-37.
They never looked back.
When the season ended last week, the young Eagles team was not only on the top of the league standings, but were undefeated, posting a perfect 14-0 on the year. In fact, the closest anyone came to beating them was Steilacoom, and the Eagles won that one by 39 points.
“It’s been a well-rounded team,” said Coach Roger Miron with a shrug and smile. He’s been coaching the Lindbergh girls since 1999 and this is his first unbeaten team, something he admits he did not expect as the season began.
Miron said it wasn’t until about the 11th or 12th win that his team first began to take note of their streak, though he said he’d watched their confidence build all season as each girl got better, faster and the team continued to do well as group.
Miron says the “influx of freshman” added “a lot of depth” to the team, which already had “solid leadership” from his handful of upperclassmen, including senior captains Taylor Jordan and Colette Garcia.
Miron says the captains convinced the freshmen, many of whom swim year-round or on local club teams, to immediately buy in to his system of hard practices and accountability and it showed from the beginning, with girls dropping times from the opening meet.
“Our first day of practice they’re in the water swimming 3,000, 4,000 yards,” Miron said. “The expectation the first day is ‘we’re going after it.’”
As times began dropping, success seemed to become contagious. Miron said he was surprised at how fast the freshman “bought in” to the program and how eager this team was to be coached.
With the help of his senior captains, Miron also built a familial sense on the team, with older girls helping younger ones.
It wasn’t long before the captains, both four-year veterans, knew there could be something special about this group.
“The first day,” Garcia said, noting that girls were rarely late for practice and always ready to go when they got to the pool. “It was amazing.”
“They all just love the sport,” Jordan agreed.
Garcia and Jordan praised their coach and said their role was to help relive stress and to provide pep talks before the meets. Plus, they want to make sure it stays fun.
Though with the regular season over, Jordan said the upperclassman have an additional role.
“We’re trying to keep focused,” she said.
Freshman Rachel Knittle said many of her fellow freshman knew what to expect when they arrived on the varsity squad and said they were eager to learn. She described herself and fellow freshman as “tough” but without “technique.”
“Roger really cleaned it up,” she said of her own freestyle and backstroke styles.
She also said the captains and upperclassmen have created a positive environment that make the tough practices easier for everyone.
In what is generally an individual sport, Lindbergh’s strength is in its team. Despite the perfect record, only one girl on the team swam state qualifying times. But since the total points of second-, third- and fourth-place finishes are worth more than a first, Lindbergh easily outpaced its competition.
“We have a great team,” he said, emphasizing the last word. “We pride ourselves on our depth.”
And for the captains, who graduate in June, that is what they will remember most, not necessarily the perfect record.
“That’s what really made my experience,” Garcia said. “It wasn’t just about winning.”