February 26, 2013
By Christina Corrales-Toy
Swim coaches form bond at the pool
Issaquah and Liberty high school swim coaches Laura Halter and Kris Daughters know firsthand what it is like traversing through the state’s most competitive league year in and year out.
The Eagles’ Halter guides her teams, boys and girls, through the KingCo 4A league, while the Patriots’ Daughters manages in the KingCo 2A/3A league.
The two wouldn’t say they do it alone, however. They’ve relied on each other for advice, support and encouragement after becoming fast friends when Halter took the helm at Issaquah 10 years ago. At that point, Daughters had already been entrenched as Liberty’s coach for six years.
“I remember the first time I had to go to a coaches meeting. Kris assured me that I was going to be OK,” Halter said. “She kind of tutored me along and made me feel welcomed.”
Halter was by no means a rookie, having already coached high school and club swim teams when she took over the Issaquah job.
The coaches met on the pool deck of the Julius Boehm Pool back when the schools practiced simultaneously, swimming in adjacent lanes. They quickly bonded over their love of swimming and teaching. Daughters teaches at Liberty and Halter used to teach at the high school level.
Issaquah and Liberty swim teams do not get to face each other on a consistent basis, but when they do, it is always an exciting meet for the coaches.
“I just think of it as fun,” Halter said.
When the two schools do match up, it usually incites a playful rivalry between the coaches.
“I think we’re both really competitive,” Daughters said. “On years when we both had sort of comparable teams, I would try and set up a lineup to beat her and she would set up a lineup to beat me, but there wouldn’t be any bad feelings over who won.”
The two coaches have an immense amount of respect for each other, and it shows when they talk about one another.
“She is just really good at teaching her kids,” Halter said of Daughters. “She’s extremely kind and patient with the kids, girls or boys. I really admire her. I think she has a lot more patience than I do.”
The more reserved Daughters admitted that she may indeed have a slight edge in patience over the fiery Halter.
“Yeah, she can get riled up about stuff,” Daughters said with a laugh.
It doesn’t take away from Halter’s skill as a coach, though, she said.
“Laura takes time to get to know her athletes and so she treats them with a lot of respect,” she said. “Since she knows them and their personalities, she knows what each swimmer might need to be successful. I think the kids really like her and her coaching style.”
The coaches’ friendship seems to have trickled down to their boys swim teams recently, with the swimmers from both schools collaborating to pull a prank on their unsuspecting coaches during their meets against each other.
During last year’s matchup, the boys broke out into a spontaneous water polo match after hitting the water for one of their races. This year, they did flips or cannonballs off of the starting block.
“They just love to have fun by messing with Laura and I,” Daughters said.
After celebrating Liberty’s performance at the Feb. 16 3A Boys State Swim and Dive Championships with a customary trip to Red Robin, Daughters returned to the King County Aquatic Center to cheer on Halter and her Issaquah swimmers as they competed in the 4A championships.
“Laura is a character,” Daughters said. “She’s a fun person to be around and she keeps things light, but she’s also a great coach.”
Halter, who playfully insists that Daughters was a better swimmer than her, is glad to have the Liberty coach as a companion.
“If Kris wasn’t here, it wouldn’t be nearly as much fun,” she said. “I look forward to seeing her every day.”