Girls’ Swimming and Diving Team Win first Regional Championship
The Waukee Girls’ Swimming and Diving Team won its first Regional Championship in Waukee’s history on November 1. Indianola hosted nine teams at their regional meet, which was one of six regional meets throughout the state. Each team could enter one relay and three individual entries per event.
Waukee swimmers were part of the Johnston program until 2010, when they split to form their own team. Waukee head coach Shelley Twigg, who was an assistant coach at Johnston for five years until the split, says that they had “great team chemistry this year.” The girls had a winning season, with losses only to Ames and Ankeny at the time of Regionals.
One of the team’s main goals this season was to win Regionals with as many state qualifiers as possible. The state qualifiers are determined from the top total 24 times in each event from all six regional meets.
Senior Ellie Blazenko stated that “Waukee had to work hard to outperform the competition and take the victory at Regionals, but they were hopeful that they could pull it off this year.”
Waukee won the meet with 494.5 points and Newton came in next with 439. Other metro hosts included Southeast Polk and Johnston.
When asked about winning Regionals, Blazenko says, “it was exciting because we had never been close before. It had never been a possibility.” Some of the most memorable races were the 200 Medley Relay and 200 Free Relays, which posted the best times of the season.
Senior Maddie Gehrke thinks that winning Regionals “really brought us together as a team. Every single person contributed to the win, and that made for a really amazing team atmosphere.”
Gehrke won the 50 Free and then smashed the school/pool record in the 100 Backstroke with a 55.90, which placed her first going into state. Freshman Alex Thorson won the 200 Free with her best time and then came in second in the 500 Free, dropping six seconds. Zoe Bussanmas and Olivia Crouse both qualified for state with their 1:09 breastrokes.
To prepare for State, which was held in Marshalltown on November 8, the girls did a lot of team bonding. Gehrke, who plans on swimming at the University of Missouri next year, believes that “the only way to prepare for state is to enjoy yourself and have fun. The more fun you have, the better you do. It’s all about being in the right frame of mind.” The team also spent lots of time practicing their races, including relay exchanges, starts, turns, and break out work.
The Warriors had a great State Meet, finishing 7th overall, which was their best team finish so far! Waukee produced three state champs- more than any other team at the meet. Highlights from the event include the 200 Medley Relay (a new school record), the 50 Free and 100 Back (Maddie Gehrke broke the state records and was automatically named an All-American), the 200 Free Relay (a new school record) and the 100 Breastroke (Zoe Bussanmas got 8th place with a new school record and Olivia Crouse got 13th place).