Swim team ends on a high note


Nadia Jackson, Writer/Photographer

The Washburn Rural swim and dive team ended their season competing at state on May 18 and 19. In order to compete at state, swimmers must qualify at previous meets by swimming the qualifying time or under. Divers must score a certain number of points with the required degree of difficulty for their dives.

There are certain steps athletes must take while training to help them qualify. According to sophomore Kristen Wolf, staying motivated played a big role in her and her teammates’ success.

“In order to qualify, I had to work really hard at practice without quitting or taking shortcuts,” Wolf said. “Then, I just had to race.”

Wolf qualified in the 200 free, 200 individual medley, 100 free, 500 free, and the 100 breaststroke. She also qualified in the three relays; the 200 medley, 200 free, and 400 relays with other teammates.

The team often competes with teams closer to Topeka, but at state they may see swimmers they have never seen before. Junior Claire Petty thinks this could be an additional challenge.

“This year there has been a lot of great competition at the city and league levels and I think after seeing some of the other KC teams as well, competition is going to be extremely difficult this year,” Petty said.

Overall this season has been good for the team, winning city and league. Head coach Erin Kessler believes the team had several important accomplishments during the season, but one meet stood out the most.

“City and league are their biggest accomplishments,” Kessler said. “However, I think that city has more enthusiasm, more of a build-up, more excitement, more traditions and that’s why it’s so important to the girls that they win because there is so much tradition that is associated with what happens when they win.”

Throughout the year, the divers practiced at Hummer Sports Park with Topeka dive coach, Amy Watson. Five schools; Washburn Rural, Topeka West, Topeka High, Seaman, and Shawnee Heights, all practiced together throughout the year, with each school only being allowed 2-3 divers.

“I feel that having all the schools practicing together creates a more positive competition between individuals while encouraging cooperation, understanding, and interaction with students from other schools,” Watson said. “The thing that I am most proud of with my girls is their ability to work together as a team.”

Along with all the positives of the season, both coaches faced several challenges throughout the year. One of Kessler’s biggest challenges came with being a new coach.

“(My biggest challenge was) gaining the trust of the team,” Kessler said. “I would coach again. It is fun to work with students outside of school.”

Watson faced a completely different challenge this season. However, she thinks of this as a learning experience and will use it as a guide looking forward to the years to come.

“I had the highest number of concussions this year that I have ever had so it forced me to reevaluate the things that I am doing wrong as a coach to prevent similar accidents from occurring in the future,” Watson said.

Many athletes had successful seasons and overcome difficult challenges. Even with all the injuries, the swimmers look forward to returning to the pool next year.