Powered By Youth

Feb. 22, 2006

By Jonathan Price

The Washington women's swimming team has grown accustomed to being led by a youthful squad. The Huskies fell victim to the loss of 10 seniors following the 2004-05 season, a void that needed to be filled by a strong, young line-up for the 2005-06 team in order to continue their success. Who better to lead the Huskies rather than Kimberly Jasmer, a North Bend, Ore. native.

Jasmer is no stranger to leading a team, hailing from North Bend High School, she garnered team captain honors during her senior season. She helped lead her team to top three finishes her final three years at the state meet, finishing first in state in the 500 and 200 freestyles as a sophomore and breaking the state record in the 500 freestyle. Jasmer took first in state in the 100 and 200 freestyles as a junior, breaking the state record in the 100 freestyle. She placed first in state in the 100 butterfly and 200 freestyle as a senior, both were state records. Outside of high school, Jasmer swam for the South Coast Aquatic Team under head coach Chris Richmond, posting Olympic trial times in the 100, 200 and 400 freestyle, setting four national qualifying times in her final year with the team.

Jasmer came to the University of Washington on top of her game, ready to fill the gaps and continue the team's success under head coach Mickey Wender. The transition was not an easy one, however, as coach Wender runs a completely different team than what Jasmer was used to at North Bend High School.

'The training is a lot tougher, faster and more intense,' said Jasmer. 'Mickey's style is so much different from anything else that I have ever seen before. I grew up with the same coach my whole life and he is a lot more focused on distance and speed. Mickey is really motivational and loud.'

Jasmer would also have to adjust to training with teammates, seeing in how she had been training by herself for her entire life. Luckily for her, this year's team captains (Megan Bright, Sharon Olson, Liya Liu) were there to lead and motivate her to early success in a new-found system.

'At first the captains intimidated me, but now I have grown more comfortable,' says Jasmer. 'I don't know how they know what to say, but it seems like they always say the right things at the right times to help motivate us to perform well.'

It didn't take long for Jasmer to find her groove. She made an immediate impact in the second regular season meet for the women, taking first place in the 500 freestyle with a time of 4:57.44. Her top-finish helped the Huskies down Pacific 146-109 and move to a perfect 2-0 to start the season.

'Having a team to rely on me really motivates me,' said Jasmer. 'I am important just like everyone else in this program. It helps to have a system where everyone believes in you and believes that you can perform as well.'

Her success would continue to improve as the season moved on, becoming a three-event winner when the women met Washington State, a meet that saw the Huskies win 11 of 14 events and move to a 10-2 record on the year. Jasmer would later produce a repeat three-event winning performance when Washington traveled to Hawaii to take on the Rainbow Wahine of Manoa. Although the Huskies suffered a tough loss in the competition, Jasmer proved to be a worthy leader on such a young team.

'I wish I could have done better in a few places this year, but everything is focused on the Pac-10's and performing well,' said Jasmer. 'I have had some outstanding swims this year, but not as many as I would like. I have never swam with a team before, because I used to train by myself growing up. Training with a bunch of other people makes a big difference and it has made me improve so much.'

Now the focus turns to the Pac-10 Tournament, where heroes are made and swimming legends are born. Jasmer hopes to make a huge impact for the Huskies and do something that most freshmen can only dream of: swim well enough to qualify for the NCAA tournament in March. Jasmer has been focused on this event the whole season, just waiting for Feb. 22 when the starting horn goes off and she gets a chance to prove that she is worthy enough to compete in a conference with the prestige of the Pac-10. Whatever the result, one thing is certain, Kimberly Jasmer is ready to make an impact for the University of Washington.

'I am really excited for Pac-10's, but I am sure I will be really nervous my first day on the deck,' says Jasmer. 'I have put in a lot of work this year, so I am excited to see how I perform. I think that I am ready.'

Jasmer and the Huskies open Pac-10 Championship action tonight at 6 p.m.

Now on Pac-12 Network
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