Kamiakin High School swimmers Madison and Lillian Thurber are hoping for one more state meet together.
Madison, a senior, already has a state-qualifying time in the 100-yard backstroke. Lillian, a sophomore, will try to earn her way in during the Class 3A District 4/5 meet Friday and Saturday in Kelso.
Madison was one of four Mid-Columbia Conference swimmers to clock a state-qualifying time during the regular season. She earned her state cut in the 100 back during the Mukilteo Invitational on Oct. 1 in Federal Way.
“When I made that cut at Mukilteo, I was super relieved, just because I don’t have to stress about making it to state,” Madison said. “I just can go in and focus on doing the best I can, swimming as fast as I can.”
At districts, Madison will try to gain a second individual state berth in the 100 freestyle. She’s the No. 2 seed in the 100 back and 100 free. The top two in each event, plus those with state-qualifying times during the season, move on to state Nov. 11-12 in Federal Way.
Madison went to state the past two years in the 200 individual medley and 100 back, but she decided to scrap the IM this year.
“We do have two state allocations in our district, and I felt like I can have a little bit more legroom to try a different event because I’ve done the 200 IM all three years of high school,” Madison said. “We’ll see how that goes; I’m excited for it.
“My sister’s taking my place in the 200 IM, so we’re hoping that she goes to state for that.”
Lillian, who swam at state last year in the 200 free relay, is the top district seed in the 200 IM and 100 breaststroke.
“Madison and I swim a lot the same, and we swim a lot of the same events, so it’s kind of how it’s always been,” Lillian said. “There’s some pressure to get a good time — you really do want to beat your fastest time and PR — but I definitely want to do better than she did.
“There’s definitely a lot of competition there, but I think that’s probably more sibling rivalry than anything else.”
The sisters have raced each other many times, including the 100 free this year at Mukilteo, where Madison was seventh and Lillian ninth. But the back-and-forth always has been good-natured.
Kamiakin coach Kathy Spane said most sisters don’t get along as well as the Thurbers: “They support each other, and they both know that they’re really good, but I think Madison makes sure she keeps a little notch ahead — just a notch.”
While Madison admits to getting nervous on race days, Lillian gets musical.
“I always have a pump-up song that I’ll sing in my head as I swim my race,” said Lillian, who plays the piano and guitar. “Depending on which event I’m in, I have a different song which has a certain beat that I do my strokes to.”
Her go-to song in the freestyle is Bust a Move from Glee. In the IM, she doesn’t have a song, but rather a beat that quickens during the freestyle and backstroke.
“I do like having a rhythm, and finding that rhythm is very important for my swimming so that I can stay on my times and drop more,” Lillian said.
Madison also plays the piano, and younger sisters Ella and Vivien play the piano and a percussion instrument called the marimba. They’ve been known to have vibrant jam sessions at their house.
“People are screaming and singing,” Madison said.
It will be different for all four Thurber sisters next year, when Madison heads off to college. Lillian is happy that Ella plans to join the Kamiakin swim team, but she will miss having her older sister around.
“I’m actually very nervous for that because I’ve never not swam with Madison — never for a long period of time,” Lillian said.
Madison thinks her little sister will be just fine.
“It’s gonna be weird not having me there with her, but I’m sure she’s gonna do great,” Madison said. “She’s very social with our team, very active, so she won’t have a problem being able to help with the team.”