When Kodee Soetamin throws his swim cap and goggles on, he still has plenty of time before launching off the starting block.
He’s getting into his zone, calming his body while visualizing a win.
Soetamin, a sophomore, is one of Mark Morris’ top swimmers. He’ll be looking to prove that at the Southwest District Championships this weekend at Dick Mealy Memorial Pool.
His routine has been refined since signing up for the Killer Whale swim program as a fifth-grader. Soetamin fell in love with the sport, and since then, has developed handsomely into a district contender.
“Starting out with swimming, it wasn’t really great in the beginning, but learning how to was really fun,” Soetamin said. “I think that was what the biggest motivator was, getting faster and learning how to do it better.”
Speed is no longer a problem for Soetamin. He recently swam a 23.3-second 50-yard freestyle and 58.5-second 100 freestyle in a home meet against Columbia River. Times like those are usually good enough for a top-three district finish, the barrier to qualify for the state championships on Feb. 16-17 in Federal Way.
“A lot of times kids think that if they go hard, things are going to work out,” MM and R.A. Long swim coach Richard Carr said. “That tops out at some point.”
Soetamin has excellent attention to technique and is always thinking about the next thing to do, Carr said. Swimming technique isn’t overly complicated and comparable to golf, Carr added.
“There’s a basic technique that works well for everyone. From that, each individual has to adapt swimmer has to adapt that to their body size, body shape, coordination pattern,” Carr said. “Golfers make essentially the same swing, but it’s a little different for each one. Each golfer has made some adaptations to their physique.”
Soetamin’s rail-thin frame has enough muscle to work his arms in a circular motion and power through the water at brisk paces.
From eighth grade to now, Soetamin said, he’s made significant improvements. A competitive personality, the Monarchs’ sophomore is also helping to ignite the whole team.
“There’s a feeling where that’s the fastest we can ever be, because that’s what they see every day,” Carr said. “So they assume it’s not possible for anyone to be any faster. But (Soetamin) then becomes the standard for everybody else on the team to work up to.”
That’s why the youngster beams when discussing swimming against tough competition, specifically a meet in Kentridge with swimmers from every classification.
“When I race against them, I can learn a lot,” Soetamin said. “It’s a pretty interesting prospect to consider where I could be in two years, and it’s also a great motivator knowing that I’m not the best. I just want to keep improving.”