Jacklene Salwei: North’s lone state warrior

POULSBO — As the last remaining North Kitsap fall sports athlete competing this season, you’d think that senior swimmer Jacklene Salwei would feel the weight of the world on her shoulders.

POULSBO — As the last remaining North Kitsap fall sports athlete competing this season, you’d think that senior swimmer Jacklene Salwei would feel the weight of the world on her shoulders.

Those who know how Salwei competes in the water would surely ask you to think again.

When asked if the pressure gets to her, Jacklene responded calmly: “No.”

“It just makes me feel good that I can go represent our school, which is pretty small, and just be there,” Salwei said.

“This is a game of nerves and confidence,” said head swimming Coach Greg Braun. “And Jacklene has both the nerves and confidence to place high.”

Salwei will compete in two events at state: the 50-meter freestyle, where she is seeded 15th, and the 100-meter freestyle, where she is seeded 10th. If she can qualify in the top 16 in either competition, she’ll move on to that event’s finals.

“If her turns are on and she’s got her mental game going, she’ll easily finish in the top eight,” Braun said.

Turns are one area Salwei has worked on since her performance at districts two weeks ago. And turns, Braun said, we’ll make the difference in both of her events.

“Whoever nails their start and turn, and has a good finish, is going to win,” Braun said of Salwei’s 50-meter freestyle event.

Salwei will be swimming in a “fast” pool — one that is deep and cold — in Federal Way’s King County Aquatic Center. The pool is also used for international competitions.

“Everyone should perform well,” said Salwei. “All the (swimmer’s) times are so close together.”

Salwei said she was not intimidated by the other swimmers, and that she’ll try to focus solely on her own lane.

“I’m just going to focus on beating my personal bests,” she said.

Salwei’s experience — four years swimming varsity, and four straight years at state — will be a big plus, head girls’ swimming Coach Marilyn Grindrod said.

“She’s been down this path three times before,” Grindrod said. “She’s more mature and stable now. I’ve seen depth in her focus — she’s much more grounded this year.”

No matter what result she achieves at state, Salwei has made a tremendous impact on her team, in leadership and her strength in the pool, Grindrod said.

“She’s been a sparkle and I’ll truly miss her,” Grindrod said. “The girls will have some big shoes to fill next year.”