Steilacoom High School has experienced plenty of individual success in girls’ swimming and diving, but in terms of relay teams the Sentinels entered this year’s state meet having never placed among the top eight in any of the three events.

“Hopefully we’re going to make school history,” junior Rachel Forbes said prior to the Class 2A state championships at the King County Aquatic Center. “My little sister is going to put us over the edge.”

A year ago, Emily Forbes was watching older sister, Rachel, and Steilacoom’s 200 medley and 400 free relay teams compete at the state. Both squads failed to advance beyond preliminaries – finishing 17th and 14th, respectively.

“I remember being up in the stands and having my heart pounding,” Emily Forbes said. “I wanted to be down there so much.”

From spectator to medalist, that’s how Emily Forbes ended her freshman season as she joined her sister in helping the Sentinels making a little history by placing at the state meet in both the 200 and 400 free relays.

The Forbes were joined by junior Sydney Lange and freshman Megan Murphy in the 200 free relay where they finished seventh overall. The Sentinels, the only team to place in the event that did not feature a senior swimmer, covered the distance in 1:44.52.

Rachel and Emily
Rachel (left) and Emily Forbes (right) helped Steilacoom High School place ninth at the Class 2A state swim and dive meet. Photo credit: Grant Clark

“They’ve been unbelievably fast all season, but when we hit districts they went faster than you ever dream they would. It’s been a mental approach with them,” Casey said. “With everybody back all three of our relays are poised to do really well next year too.”

It had taken Steilacoom quite some time to produce that first relay medal. The second one came significantly quicker as the quartet added a sixth-place finish in the 400 free relay (3:52.68) later in the day.

Liberty of Renton notched its third consecutive state title, finishing with 322 points.

Steilacoom, which placed among the top 12 in six individual events, was ninth overall in the team standings with 106 points.

Individually, the Forbes both picked up points in the 50 and 100 free.

Steilacoom High School Swimming
Emily Forbes climbs out of the pool after warming down following preliminaries in the state 100 free. Photo credit: Grant Clark

“This year it’s been Team Forbes against the rest of the world and that’s how we’ve been approaching it,” Sentinel coach Kathy Casey said. “I’ve coached sisters before. In fact, we have three sets of sisters on the team this year, but none have been as competitive with each other as these two have. It’s a rivalry between these two.”

Emily Forbes finished sixth in the 50 free with a time of 25.73. Rachel Forbes was 12th, stopping the clock in 26.32.

“If someone is going to beat me I want it to be her,” Rachel Forbes said. “It’s hard being the older one because I always want to be the winner, but I also get to be my little sister’s biggest fan. She’s the prodigy in the family and I am really proud to be able to call her my sister.”

Emily Forbes finished seventh in the 100 free (54.73) with Rachel Forbes coming in 10th place (57.40).

The Sentinels
The Sentinels placed in the 200 and 400 free medleys, marking the first time in program history a relay team has placed at the state meet. Photo credit: Grant Clark

“Being down here and actually getting to compete at state has just been surreal,” Emily Forbes said. “I’ve been waiting eight years for this.”

Emily Forbes was not the only Sentinel newcomer to shine at their first state meet as Murphy finished 12th in the 100 backstroke (1:05.29) and Julie Burlingame was sixth in the 1-meter diving, posting a 259.20 points to become the only freshman to finish in the top 9.


Stadium finished fourth at the 3A state meet, receiving dual placings from senior Kaycee Simpson and freshmen Taylor Kabacy and Ashlea Liljar, while Gig Harbor placed eighth as a team.

Simpson was fourth in the 200 IM (2:07.98) and fifth in the 100 fly (58.17), while Kabacy was eighth in the 200 free (1:55.23) and fourth in the 500 free (5:02.00).

Swimming meet
Emily and Rachel Forbes complete in the state 100 free. Photo credit: Grant Clark

Liljar finished second in the 50 free (24.19) and fourth in the 100 breast (1:05.29).

The three were also joined by junior Riley Anderson to pick up second place in the 400 free medley (3:33.87).


Sumner senior McKenna Webster won the 4A state diving title with a score of 298.65 to help the Spartans finished ninth as a team at the state meet.