Swimmer’s competitive motor spins fast

Ramsey sets course for return to state

By Andy Buhler, Columbian staff writer

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Ever since she started swimming in kindergarten, Jackie Ramsey was drawn to individualized sports.

It’s among the reasons she pursued gymnastics and fencing over the all-too-common team sports kids often start playing at a young age.

And it’s in part why the junior, who swims for Battle Ground, has found success in the pool.

“I’ve always just liked individual sports better because you know you’ve done it all,” Ramsey said. “It’s not like you’re dragging down a team or somebody else is dragging down a team. It’s you who got to state, you who got to sectionals. It’s a better feeling that way. It’s more rewarding.”

Ramsey, a junior at Seton Catholic, is Battle Ground’s top swimmer, as Seton does not have a swimming team. This season, she holds top-10 times in the 100-yard freestyle, 200 free, 500 free, 100 backstroke, 100 butterfly and 200 individual medley in the 4A Greater St. Helens League. Her 100 backstroke time of 1:05.38 is second best in the league.

And she’s the type of competitor a coach dreams of having. Just ask her coach.

“She’s a joy to have as a swimmer and a person. She works harder than anyone else on the team,” Battle Ground and Prairie swimming coach Dan Kirkland said. “She is a dream swimmer for any coach because of her work ethic and desire to excel.

Her secret? Ramsey hates losing.

“Some athletes have that built into them, and others maybe don’t have as much drive,” Kirkland said. “If you could bottle that and sell it to some other individuals …”

Battle Ground and Prairie’s swimming teams are co-opted, meaning they train together and share the same coach, despite results being separated by school. It’s a setup shared by other programs in Clark County. Union, Heritage, Mountain View and Evergreen also co-op their programs.

But Ramsey says it doesn’t feel like Prairie is a “rival.”

“I’ll go cheer for the Prairie girls when they’re swimming,” she said, “and the Prairie girls will cheer for us.”

Swimming runs in Ramsey’s family. Her older sister swam in high school, as did her dad and grandmother. Her dad, Chris, also reached the junior olympics for fencing. Her grandmother, Ramsey said, comes to her meets. She even sewed Battle Ground colors into a towel for the junior.

Ramsay qualified for state as a freshman, and credits her winning mentality for giving her the extra edge.

“I was like ‘I gotta go to state. This can’t happen.’ If I hadn’t have had the mentality I probably wouldn’t have made it,” she said.

She then took a hiatus from club, which she says is a reason why she came up short as a sophomore. Also, last year Washington’s District 4 and 5 combined for swimming, which deepened the talent pool at the district meet, and made it harder to qualify for state.

Ramsey is determined to return. She rejoined club during the summer and entered the season swimming at her highest level, Kirkland said. It’s made all the difference.

She’ll be competing at districts this year, which takes place Nov. 3-4.

She’s quite familiar with competition. Ramsey started swimming in kindergarten, and joined club in second grade. But her experience in high school, she said, has brought her closer to her teammates.

“Club it’s all about the times and competing,” she said. “High school is more about community.”

Despite that, she feels she still has something to prove.

“That’s what always drives me, is reaching my goal,” she said. “That’s why I always set the goal higher than I can get, so I can make drastic improvements.”