Shorewood's Susie McDowell retires from coaching after 30 years

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Susie McDowell's last team in 2022 had a hugely successful season
Photo by Kristi Lin

By Kristi and Daniel Lin

After over 30 years of coaching swimming in the Shoreline School District, Susie McDowell made the surprise decision to announce her retirement from coaching - at least a surprise to all but Susie! At the core of her decision was the reality that it was simply too difficult to commit to her second grade teaching position and coach at the same time.

2022 team with Coach Susie McDowell and Assistant Coach Jeremy Hunter
Photo by Kristi Lin

Susie grew up swimming year round in the Tri-Cities with the Tri-City Channel Cats. She was a decorated high school swimmer, achieving both Junior and Senior National qualifying standards. She garnered attention from prestigious swimming programs, deciding to swim at UW from 1985-1989 and serving as Captain during her Senior year.

Upon graduation, she knew that she loved teaching and swimming, and she started coaching in hopes of it helping her land a teaching job. Because of her gifts in both education and coaching, she excelled in both disciplines and coached from 1989-2022 with seven years as Assistant Coach and 26 years as Head Coach, totaling 33 years of inspiring and motivating kids in the classroom and in the swimming pool!

Susie fosters team spirit. 2014 team pre-meet cheer.
Photo by Wayne Pridemore

Susie is most proud of seeing kids happy about being a part of a team and learning how they could contribute, no matter their skill level. She felt that these attributes would serve our high school kids well throughout their entire lives as family members, friends, colleagues, parents, and mentors.

Susie was also a meticulous planner and fierce competitor. She would spend days and weeks mapping out a dual meet match-up, figuring out the lineup to optimize success which usually resulted in endless piles of chart-riddled paper strewn about her house.

2010 State Champions
One memorable meet was a 94-92 victory against Kamiak in their home pool for the 2006 WESCO South Title! Another lasting memory was the 2010 State Champion 400 Free Relay team (Annika Stenfjord, Anni Hecker, Alicia Hoverson, and Dana Michaels), with Susie standing on a chair cheering and Assistant Coach Jeremy Hunter preventing her from climbing on the table.

Susie never backed down from a good challenge, and several dual meets came down to the last race which she absolutely embraced and loved.

Susie and her daughter Emily
Photo by Kristi Lin
A particularly sweet highlight for Susie was the opportunity to coach her daughter Emily from 2015-2018, thinking initially that she might hang up the whistle and stopwatch after Emily’s graduation, but thankfully hanging on to her coaching mission for four more years.

Susie gracefully leaves Shoreline coaching after a hugely successful season – 1st place JV Championship, 2nd place District Varsity Championship , with swimmers posting personal-best times, culminating in a 15th place finish at the 3A Washington State Championships.

The community will miss Susie, as she helped with the successful transition from the now permanently closed Shoreline pool to the new site at Innis Arden at the height of the pandemic.

Swim team training at Innis Arden pool
Photo by Susie McDowell

See Susie's article on the venue change from indoor to outdoor pool 

She absolutely loved serving and mentoring the swim team youth. Susie feels immensely honored and proud to have been a part of high school athletics for the past three decades and feels that high school participation represents the best things about sports for our children.

While Susie is still hopeful that Shoreline will find resources for a public indoor pool, she is grateful for all the opportunities and experiences that Shoreline has offered and thankful for all the support for Shorewood Swim Team.

Congratulations, Coach Susie, on all your excellent hard work and success for our Shoreline student-athletes!


Frank Kleyn,  December 13, 2022 at 5:59 AM  

Thank you, Coach Susie! You’ve changed many lives. Congratulations!🎉🎊🎈

Anonymous,  December 13, 2022 at 11:26 AM  

An excellent article about a truly exceptional coach. Susie put her whole heart into being a great coach as well as a superb teacher. There are many wonderful coaches out there, but Shorewood will be hard-pressed to find another who will have the experience, time and heart that Susie brought to this role.

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