There is a long history of success for the swim and dive teams at Mercer Island, something that wasn’t lost on swimmer Jake Headrick. When he joined up as a freshman, his coach encouraged him and his teammates to look at the names on the record board at the Mary Wayte Swimming Pool.
“On Mercer Island we’re very fortunate to have a great community and a tradition of great swimmers,” Headrick said. “Being able to contribute to that legacy and to hopefully add onto it is a huge honor to me. It’s one of the reasons I was so excited to be a high school swimmer.”
Now Headrick is a senior and captain on the Mercer Island boys swim and dive team. Headrick said that being chosen by his peers to be a captain is a tremendous honor. He said that he hopes to help out his teammates as much as past captains helped him.
“I’ve always looked up to my captains and I always wanted to be just like them,” Headrick said. “Whenever I was in doubt or needed some guidance, that’s who I would go to.”
As a captain, Headrick said he is able to provide guidance to some of the young swimmers who might not have as much experience as the club swimmers. The team focuses on making sure everyone feels like they are an important part of the team, because they are.
“One of the things that I’ve always valued about our team is that every person matters. It didn’t matter if you’re the fastest swimmer at the meet or the slowest, everyone got support and was cheered for. Everyone’s improvement mattered,” Headrick said. “We can’t do it with just six people alone.”
The focus on team success in high school swimming is something that Headrick enjoys. He said all of his best swims have come in team-first environments, with his teammates giving him support.
“When your team is on the side of the pool cheering for you, that energy is unmatched,” Headrick said. “You can’t get that when you’re at a meet by yourself or just with your coach. It’s not the same.”
Before swimming for the Mercer Island team, Headrick competed at the Mercer Island Beach Club. Headrick said the team at the Beach Club felt like a family, which is something that continued with the Mercer Island team.
“The community was strong at the Beach Club and it transferred to the high school,” Headrick said. “It made that a really easy transition.”
Headrick always wanted to swim in college, but he said his main focus was academics. When it came to deciding where he wanted to swim in college, Headrick also wanted to find another supportive team atmosphere. He found both of those at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire.
“’Team’ is a huge part of what swimming is for me,” Headrick said. “I really felt at home with the team at Dartmouth. They had many of the same characteristics that the Mercer Island community has, where everyone is supportive, inclusive and wants to see everyone do well.”
The Islanders finished second as a team at the state meet last season, only 14 points behind first place Bainbridge Island. After falling just short last year, Headrick said that knowing they have the pieces to win provides them with plenty of motivation.
“Our team goal is to win state,” Headrick said. “That’s something we’ve been so close to every year I’ve been on the team. This year we have an amazing shot.”
The Mercer Island swim and dive will compete at the KingCo Championship Meet on Feb. 8, before competing at the SeaKing District Finals on Feb. 15. The state meet will be held on Feb. 21-22 at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way.