Yamada moved with her family to Ridgefield late last summer after growing up in Arizona, which was a big adjustment.
“The biggest change for sure was the change in people,” Yamada said. “The people I knew in high school down there I had gone to school with all the way since sixth grade. So I had a group of friends that we had a lot of history together.”
Also in Arizona, the swim season was for both girls and boys.
At Ridgefield, the girls swim program is still in its budding phase. Last year, Ridgefield sent swimmers to the state meet for the first time. This fall, Yamada was one of six swimmers at Ridgefield, which practiced and competed in a co-op program with schools like Hockinson, Washougal and La Center.
“Coming here and finding out it was just the girls season was a bit of a shock to me,” Yamada said. “And then having a co-op was another big change. We didn’t have co-ops in Arizona. I thought it was a cool and interesting concept, giving small schools the chance to work together. It really just meshed together, and we felt like a whole team and not just five different teams coming together at once.”
At the state meet, Yamada cut nearly a second off her preliminary time to win the 100 breaststroke in 1 minute, 8.86 seconds, almost three seconds faster than runner-up Hazel Edge of Pullman. She also finished fourth in the 200 individual medley just behind teammate Medea Rusu.
Yamada, Rusu, Catalano and Julia Smith swam Ridgefield to fourth place in the 400 free relay, helping the Spudders place eighth in the team standings.
Yamada is a Running Start student at Clark College with aspirations of studying pre-law in college. And she is looking forward to her senior season swimming for Ridgefield, hoping this past fall was the start of something bigger.
“It was good to see that the program is growing,” Yamada said. “Hopefully it will continue to grow. I hope that all of us making it to state will make everyone at Ridgefield know like ‘hey, we have a swim team, come join.’ I hope it will bring more popularity to it.”
All-Region girls swimming team
McKelvey Brewer, Hudson’s Bay: The senior placed seventh in the 2A 100 butterfly and was a state qualifier in the 500 freestyle.
Paige Dangleis, Hockinson: The junior placed third in the 2A 50 freestyle and fourth in the 2A 100 freestyle.
Haley Gunderson, Heritage: The junior was a state qualifier in the 100 backstroke and placed 13th in the 50 free in the 3A state meet.
Camille McClafferty, Union: The senior placed seventh in the 4A 500 freestyle and 10th in the 100 breaststroke.
Lila McGeachy, Camas: The junior placed fourth in the 4A 500 freestyle and seventh in the 200 freestyle.
Medea Rusu, Ridgefield: The junior placed third in the 2A 200 individual medley and fourth in the 100 backstroke.