Striving for State

Girls swim/dive tries to repeat as state champs


Evan Guterman

Senior Mia Muckerman raises herself out of the water to breathe while swimming the Butterfly.

Winning state for the first time with 245 points was big for girls’ swim and dive last year, and they’re facing extra pressure this season to do it again, according to some of the girls.

Last year at state, Kylee Sullivan competed against some big competition but she stayed confident in the 200 IM where she actually broke the state record with a time of 2:21.

It is freshman Alena White’s first year swimming, and she said she has a lot of people she looks up to. 

“I look up to my coaches and upperclassmen, especially coach Blakeleigh [Mathes]. She’s pretty hard on us but it inspires me,” she said.

Even though White didn’t have much experience with swimming, she was still encouraged to try out.

“The hardest part is definitely continuously going, especially since I have asthma and don’t have experience with competitive swimming. I’m really glad that my friends encouraged me to try out,White said.

Sophomore Joanna Ripper talks about the level of stress she gets from schoolwork that comes with being constantly busy with practices.

“I don’t stress a lot, only really on days that I have a test, otherwise I’ll get stuff done during school or during ac. lab which is really helpful. We also have the opportunity to go to our coach’s room and work there,” she said.  

The girls talk about how they will face a lot of pressure for this new season after winning state last year but Mathes doesn’t fully agree. 

“I don’t think there is any more or less pressure than we had last year. We know what it takes and are committed to working hard in the pool and in the weight room. There’s definitely an expectation now with the program, but the girls are all ready to rise to the challenge once again,” she said.

Senior Kylee Sullivan has been swimming competitively for 14 years. She plays a big role on the swim team and says swimming is one of her favorite things to do. Sullivan signed a scholarship to swim at Mizzou when she was only a junior. 

“I love getting to practice every day with my friends and like our team is such a family and they make practice really fun and enjoyable. I think I love the feeling after you do well at practice or do well at a meet that like all your hard work is paid off, and the feeling of accomplishment after you go through a time you don’t think you can is what I really love about it,” Sullivan said.

A lot of the girls talked about how tiring swimming gets and how they struggle being motivated to go to practice every single day. The coaches work their hardest to make swim practice the best environment for all the girls, so that they are more motivated to come and want to work hard.

“Swimming can be pretty repetitive and that can wear on you mentally. You basically stare at a tiny black line for hours. It’s important to me to make an environment that emphasizes positivity and support. We blast music and generally make sure to make the pool deck as welcoming as possible,” Mathes said.