The challenges this year have been different, however, as Wasatch has moved into class 4A. Now heading into post-season, no longer will the Wasps have some of the less-prominent programs they used to dominate on their way to the podium, but now must fight past the likes of Skyline and defending 4A champ Springville.
“We knew moving up in class, we would be dealing with much tougher competition,” said head swim coach, Steve Marsing. “Where we used to have around thirty swimmers locked in for state, now we have I think fourteen in with eight on the bubble,” he added. “It never was easy, but now it’s even tougher. The kids have really stepped it up this year though. I’m really pleased with the young kids.”
Marsing is very familiar with the competition, but goes with the numbers when projecting how his teams will do. “Our girls team is in good position to win it,” Marsing stated. “We’ve just got so much depth there.”
“The boys—well, we have to look at Springville being on top right now, but we’re solid at second,” the coach added. “Our boys medley relay is ranked first. Of course we have to show up. We have to perform. Nothing is ever a given.”
The past two weeks, Wasatch has dominated in its only two home pool events this year. Two weeks ago, they defeated Highland and last week they put the finishing touches on a solid regular season against Hunter High School coached by Marsing’s son, Shawn.
It was great for the Wasp swimmers to compete at home, in those season-closing duals, but their focus has already turned to this week’s region championships. For some… the focus is already on state.
Anna Dahl, a team co-captain and dominant performer in the 100-yard Breaststroke and 200-yard IM, has recorded several personal bests this year but has her eyes set on her state mark. “I’m right on track where I want to be,” said the senior. “I’m dropping time faster this year than I was last year. But I don’t just want to beat my state time from last year, I want to blow it away.”
It’s that sort of confidence that has trickled down through Dahl’s younger teammates and created a winning attitude. “I just swim as fast as I can and focus on myself and hopefully that extends out to the team.”
Juniors MaeLin Sorenson and Phebe James, two swimmers who discovered the sport a little later than some competitors, have found their niche and are the brink of some individual success of their own.
Sorenson found the long distance of the 500-yard Freestyle to her liking. While many swimmers find the event too grueling to take to the next level, the 16-year old has embraced it and distanced herself from the crowd.
“I’m pretty much focused on state,” she said. “I want to do well at region of course, but getting my best time at state and helping us win it would be the best way to have all the hard work pay off. I just think it says so much about Coach Marsing—how well we’re doing,” Sorenson added. “He really is the key to our success.”
The more laid back James has contributed to the team with her fast sprint times, recording several personal bests this season and winning the “Best Swimmer’ award at the Desert Hills swim off.
“Oh yeah…the teams are so much better now in 4A,” James said. “The schools are bigger and just have so many more good swimmers. We have to really work hard and be at our best to win.”
The junior, who didn’t even join the swim team until after filling out a personal bio in Marsing’s freshman health class, has kept her goals pretty much in check. “I really love being on the swim team now,” she stated. “I’m so glad I gave it a try. It really is a lot of work but its so gratifying.”
James, like most of her teammates swims in multiple events. This creates the depth and options Marsing believes will be the key if the girls are to follow through on their promise of winning state their first time in 4A.
For much of the season, the boy’s team has played second fiddle to the girls—when it comes to team finishes. The young men knew, however, that the move up in class would present much tougher challenges and forced them to take their times to another level.
Senior captain, Hunter Hallows has led the way for the Wasps this year besting his times in the 100-yard Butterfly and 100-yard Breaststroke repeatedly. Hallows also competes in a couple of the relays for Wasatch, an area where they are the strongest.
“I’m really looking forward to state more than region,” stated Hallows, who has been swimming competitively since the 6th grade. “I’m ready to get in there with the top schools and see what we can do.”
Hallows’ boy’s squad, though not as deep as his female teammates, has a couple of aces in the hole that could help them surprise when they reach the platforms at BYU in two and a half weeks.
Co-captain Spencer Wabel, admits he isn’t the top individual swimmer Hallows and some of his fellow Wasps have been this season, but he is feeling pretty good about his position. “It’s been cool to work my way up from the middle of the pack to the top,” said the senior. “I’ve never podiumed before, never been the one with the best times meet after meet, but I’m peaking at the right time. We’re swimming better as a team right now and that’s pretty cool.”
One of the top underclass members of the team, sophomore Chad Patterson, has been a huge part of the boy’s success this season. “It’s been a lot of fun this season,” Patterson said. “The competition is a lot tougher now so it just makes you work harder and makes it more fun when you do well.”
Patterson, who swims competitively year around, takes the pool for multiple events for Wasatch but enjoys the challenge of long distance. “The top swimmer in the 500-yard Freestyle is from Springville, so for me, it’ll be a lot of fun going against him,” stated the sophomore. “But really, winning at state is the real goal.”
Marsing praises his swimmers on how hard they work and believes they can all continue to get better if they put in the hard work necessary. “Swimming is a great sport,” the coach said. “A good, healthy, safe sport. You can work to better yourself individually and still contribute to great team success. We’ve got a really good group here this year and I look for great things the next couple of weeks.”
Regionals take place this Thursday at the Provo Recreation Center beginning at 10:00 a.m. The state swim meet will take place for those who carry on in two weeks at BYU.