Liberty swim teams: the secret behind their success

Siri Christopherson, Sports Editor

Swim coach Kris Daughters is often referred to as the most successful coach at Liberty—the boys team just finished their season with a solid seventh place at state, and the girls team has been the reigning state champion since 2014. The girls team especially was strong even in 3A, and since Liberty’s switch down to 2A, the team has been delivering outstanding performances compared to both its competitors and other Liberty teams.
It seems as if the woman behind the wins has some secret tricks up her sleeve, but she claims otherwise. According to Daughters, all the glory really just comes down to the swimmers and a bit of luck.
“I’ve been coaching swimming for a long time, and it helps that I was a high school, collegiate, and club swimmer myself, but there’s been years where we’ve been 12th at state, even 15th at state, and I really didn’t do anything different than I did the last three years,” Daughters said.
What it really comes down to is the simultaneous move of Liberty athletics down to 2A with the incoming flow of quality swimmers joining the Liberty program.
From a geographic perspective, the Puget Sound area is home to the majority of the fastest swimmers in the state, thanks to a large population pool and a multitude of club teams. In District 2, the WIAA district encompassing central Puget Sound and the Seattle area, there are only two 2A schools—Liberty and Sammamish—compared to 23 3A and eight 4A schools.
“When we moved down to 2A, we started competing with teams not necessarily from the Puget Sound area, and they don’t have the benefit of having a ton of club teams around those areas,” Daughters said.
Looking at the swimmers, Liberty has had an expanding influx of talented athletes in the swim program in recent years, especially on the girls’ team.
“It was just fortuitous that at the same time we moved to 2A the women’s team had all these kids come in. I knew they were coming,” Daughters said.
The boys, although they have yet to match the unparalleled success of the girls’ team, have also experienced their share of glory, moving from 13th place in 2016 to 7th this year.
“Next year the boys team will be even better because we’re likely to get a couple more year-round swimmers,” Daughters said.
When it comes down to it, Daughters says, the key as a coach is to unify a talented group of athletes and cultivate the culture of success.
“My role is to take the talent and the strengths of the kids on the team and make them fuse together into this unified whole,” Daughters said. “The swim team has always been a great group of people, it’s just when you get this flood of experienced kids, and they work well together, and the team atmosphere works for them, then great things can happen.”