Just before her eighth birthday, Lauren Yon decided to give swimming a chance.
Yon’s best friends and neighbors — sisters Lucie and Mia Davis — were members of the Sweet Home Swim Club. The Davises got Yon to sign up, and the rest is history.
The Sweet Home High senior has collected 11 4A/3A/2A/1A state titles (five individual, six relays) during her decorated prep career. Yon, who signed with Oregon State in November, will have a chance to qualify for four more gold medals at next month’s state meet.
“It’s crazy because this has all gone a lot faster than I was expecting,” Yon said during Saturday’s Special District 3 preview meet at Albany Community Pool. “It still feels like I’m a freshman at times, and it’s just gone by super quick because I’ve had a lot of fun doing it.”
Yon is the three-time defending state champion in the 200-yard IM. She also owns individual state titles and is the school-record holder in the 100 breaststroke and 100 freestyle.
As a sophomore in 2016, Yon was named 4A/3A/2A/1A girls swimmer of the meet at state.
“She’s just bought into the program,” longtime Sweet Home coach Doug Peargin said. “She’s the kind of kid that when she decides to do something, she doesn’t go half-hearted. She is a 4.0 student and I believe she has never been defeated in a dual or district meet.
“And she still enjoys it, too. That’s a big part of it. If you enjoy something, your chances of getting better are a lot higher than if you don’t.”
From the very beginning Yon has trained alongside Mia Davis, another member of Sweet Home’s back-to-back girls state championship squads.
Mia Davis is set to swim for College of Idaho next year while older sister Lucie is currently a freshman at Boise State.
“It’s just been great to be training next to her and see her grow and get faster,” the younger Davis said of Yon. “She’s just a great person, a great swimmer and has a really big future in front of her.”
Peargin holds two workouts per day for the high school team. The early session is for the slower swimmers while the 11 strongest kids train in the late afternoon.
The day-to-day competition brings the best out of everyone.
“Having people to train with is really vital, especially in swimming because it’s such a mentally challenging sport,” Yon said. “Just having people constantly there to keep pushing you through every practice is super helpful.”
Added Peargin: “In the late practice they are almost side by side the entire time and it’s speed against speed. Each workout is essentially with people of your own ability, so you are going against someone every day who will be in the state meet.”
Following her sophomore season, Yon began reaching out to college programs.
She developed a strong relationship with several members of Oregon State’s swim team and coach Jennifer Buffin. Yon felt a natural connection with the Beavers.
“I fell in love with the Oregon State coaches and the team, and I was a really good fit for them,” Yon said. “I love swimming and I am not ready to be done with it yet.”
While excited to compete in the Pac-12, Yon has about one month remaining in her high school career.
She will be going for a fourth state title in both relays and the 200 IM, where she is about one second off the school record. The Huskies are expected to be one of four or five schools in the hunt for the team title.
“It’s very important for us (to repeat as champions),” Mia Davis said. “There will be some pretty toughing racing at state between several different teams, and it’s going to be really interesting to see who wins.”
Added Yon: “It would be really awesome for us. We are going to keep training and stay positive and just enjoy it I guess. We’ll see what happens.”