Boys swimming team success motivates girls team

Facing a pool of clear blue water, sophomore Ethan Kallenberger appears deadly calm.

In the moments leading up to swim meets, Kallenberger does his best to get his mind off the race and relax.

“I try to talk to people …  I just kind of get off task and get my mind away from it,” Kallenberger said.

The boys swim team had great success this season, earning medals in eight of the 12 events at State and finishing fifth as a team.

The team set many personal and school records this season, and posted times that would have, in recent years, won them the state championship.

“The competition was very elite this year,” junior Jack Ziegler said, “But we were happy with it all.”

This year’s success can be partly attributed to the work that the boys put in during the off-season.

“Staying in shape and improving outside of the high school season makes it so that we can make a difference,” Kallenberger said.

During the off-season, Kallenberger and many of his friends wake up at five a.m. every morning to endure grueling, three hour practices. These strenuous work outs are accompanied by running and maintaining good nutrition. It paid off during the season.

“I actually don’t feel tired during the practice and most of the time they feel pretty good,” Kallenberger said. “But I pay for it later and I usually crash around sixth hour.”

Each meet is one more chance to qualify for state. Previous to the “last chance” meet, Kallenberger had already received his state consideration time in the 100 backstroke, which was his goal.

At the “last chance” meet held at Free State, he qualified with a time of 59:10 seconds.

“I saw my time on the scoreboard,” Kallenberger said, “And I didn’t really believe my eyes at first.”

Another important factor in this year’s success was the strong senior leadership.

“Especially this year they stepped it up,” Ziegler said. “They helped a lot with staying on task during practice and … always made sure to set a good example.”

According to Ziegler, senior Hunter Robinson was particularly good at raising team spirit before meets.

“He was just full of inspirational quotes,” Ziegler said.

Each year’s swim team brings something special to the table, according to coach Annette McDonald.

“The seniors who lead the team are different and the group that qualifies each year brings a whole new team dynamic,” McDonald said. “… Many had trained together for the past 3 years on the Free State team; creating friendships and camaraderie.”

The team spirit is also alive and well in the girls team, and the girls are hoping to use the boys’ success to launch their new season.

Sophomore Anna McCurdy is excited to be back in the pool this year and make a run at State again.

“We were runner-up at state last year and I think we’re all fired up to get back on top,” McCurdy said.

The girls are proud of the boys’ performance and hope to use it as motivation for their own season.

“Seeing the guys team compete at state and do pretty well, definitely gets us excited for when it’s our time to shine,” McCurdy said.

Both the girls and the boys teams show their support by attending each other’s meets.

Underclassmen McCurdy and Kallenberger are proud of their growth over the years and what their teams have accomplished. While Kallenberger didn’t make finals at State, he was still ecstatic to have qualified.

“I was nowhere near state last year,” he said. “[now] I’m miles ahead of where I was … so I’m really happy.”