Seoul American’s freshman stars propel their swim team

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Seoul American’s freshman stars propel their swim team

For a swimmer who finishes a season breaking five league records (including some of her own) and winning every event in which she was entered, is there anywhere else to go? If that swimmer is Sarah Yance, the answer is a resounding yes.
Yance, a freshman at Seoul American High School, is already one of three MVP female swimmers who had perfect scores in the Korean American Interscholastic Activities Conference tournament meet this year. She set new KAIAC records in the 50- and 100-meter butterfly, the 200-meter freestyle, and in the 200-meter IM and the 200-meter freestyle relays.
“Sarah has been swimming here for the last three years, and she continues to improve each year,” said her coach, Alan Ueoka. “She’s just an all-around swimmer. She’s definitely our MVP swimmer in that we could put her in any event and I know she would come out with a win.”
The swimming season was particularly competitive this year, Mr. Ueoka said, with the SAHS combined boys’ and girls’ swim team winning the overall tournament by only five points, an extremely slim margin for a swim meet. In addition to the tournament, SAHS won three of the four regular meets during the season, “mostly because of the girls’ team, led by Sarah Yance,” said her coach.
Ms. Yance’s five record times would have been six, were it not for another perfect tournament score achieved by the other SAHS MVP, freshman Leah Loefstedt.
A backstroker who came in first in all of her backstroking events, Ms. Loefstedt also broke the 100-meter freestyle record during the championship meet with a time of 1:03.87, a whopping two seconds faster than the previous record, which Ms. Yance had set earlier in the season. Coach Ueoka called it a “pretty huge victory and personal accomplishment” for Ms. Loefstedt.
“It was a big deal for me because I really wanted to [break the record],” she said. “I’d had that as a goal for the whole season.”
Both Ms. Loefstedt and Ms. Yance continue to set the bar ever higher for themselves. “I definitely hope to improve in my 100 freestyle time,” she said. “And my 200 [freestyle time] too since Sarah broke that record,” she adds with a laugh. Ms. Yance had beaten her record earlier in the season.
Besides pushing each other to achieve better times in their individual events, Ms. Yance and Ms. Loefstedt also work together on the 200-meter IM and the 200-meter freestyle relays. Between Ms. Yance’s dominating butterfly and Ms. Loefstedt’s strong kick in the backstroke, and solid performances from two more eighth grade swimmers, the girls set new KAIAC records in both the relays.
As for being decisive leaders at a young age, Ms. Loefstedt said, “I have definitely worked toward it and so has Sarah.”
“If they keep up their training regimen, they are going to dominate ... until they are seniors,” said their coach. “They’ve got great futures and potentials for college swim careers.”
Ms. Yance, the unbeaten champion, has simple goals for the next few years. “I want to try and break more records and be MVP,” she said. “That’s all.”


by Kirsten Jerch
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