Islander swimmer Whelan thrives in the sprint races

Staying pumped and positive makes a difference, she says.

Austin Whelan. Photo courtesy of Polly Schaps

Austin Whelan. Photo courtesy of Polly Schaps

Bring on the sprints.

That’s where Mercer Island High School (MIHS) senior captain Austin Whelan thrives in the swimming realm. When the Islander splashes into the pool, she’s especially drawn to the 50-yard freestyle and 200-yard freestyle relay.

At press time, Whelan was headed to the 3A state meet in the 200 relay, which notched a time of 1:40.69. Her relay teammates had not yet been decided at press time.

In her third year on the squad, the Islanders grabbed the 3A KingCo championship, took second at districts and were headed onward to state in this first full fall season since the pandemic hit.

“Our team has really bonded. Everyone loves each other and we’re just really excited to be back in person, so I think that’s part of the energy,” Whelan said.

In her captain role, she’s providing leadership, positivity, encouragement and plenty of spirit.

“Always cheering behind the blocks gets everyone super motivated. We’ve got some state times (that way),” Whelan said. “When you’re swimming a long event, you can see everyone on the side screaming. We’re always the most spirited at meets.”

Whelan enjoys the team atmosphere during the relays and how everyone hypes each other up. And it’s thrilling to be involved in those 50 frees in the 200 relay and in the individual races.

When it’s time to unleash the speed in those races, Whelan stays pumped and positive from start to finish.

The Reporter asked Whelan a series of questions to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse into her life:

What’s your favorite movie of all time?

“Hidden Figures.” I go through phases, maybe six months ago it was “The Breakfast Club,” now it’s “Hidden Figures.”

If you could go to dinner with one person, who would that be?

Michelle Obama or Harry Styles.

What’s a special skill that you’d like to learn?

How to crochet.

What super power would you like to have?

This one’s easy… shape shifting, ‘cause then I could shape shift into any power I want.

How do you like to spend your spare time when you’re not at the pool or at school?

I like to be creative. I like going thrifting and up-cycling my clothes and making jewelry and painting.

What’s your dream vacation spot?


What’s something that you’re afraid of that you might want to try to overcome?

Disappointment. I don’t want to disappointment people like my coach or my peers or my family.

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