This year’s state swimming and diving championships, like many in many sports, will have a much different look and feel to it. For Napoleon’s state qualifiers it doesn’t matter, they are happy to be competing in their final races of a very unique season.
“It has been very different,” said Napoleon swim coach Denise Brown. “We have had people in and out, we have had to train different and the whole COVID concern has been constantly over our heads.
“The kids have had to remember to bring masks and baggies or containers (to keep masks in),” Brown continued. “It’s all the little things that add pressure to the kids who are just trying to preform. But, they have handled it really well.”
This year’s state championships have a different format. Instead of diving on the first day, followed by two days of swimming, with preliminary and final races, the meet is broken down into gender, with the Division II girls diving and swimming events Wednesday and the boys competition set for Thursday.
Diving begins at 9 a.m. and swim finals (a timed event) following at 4:30 p.m. both days.
Brown said not having to race two days could benefit the Napoleon swimmers, who only swim back-to-back days once a year at the state championships.
“Swimming two days is very tiring and emotionally draining,” said Brown. “Our kids are used to this way, which they do at the district meet. I think this will benefit us.”
Napoleon junior Kyle Hudson has the fastest seed time for both his individual races — the 200 (1:40.81) and 100 (45.43) freestyle races. Hudson placed eighth in the 200 free and seventh in the 100 backstroke last year.
“It’s all one swim this year,” said Hudson. “You have to just bring it, go out there and give everything you have. There is no holding back.”
Hudson is also on the 200 medley relay team, swimming the opening backstroke leg, along with teammates Brett Bostelman (breaststroke), Masen Switzer (butterfly) and Khalil Tran (free), and the 400 free relay, swimming the anchor leg with teammates Mitchell Griffith, Bostelman and Tran.
The 200 medley relay team is seeded 19th, while the 400 free relay team is eighth and will swim in the final heat.
“I think that is an advantage,” said Hudson of swimming in the final heat. “You can see all the other times and you are in the fastest heat. That helps.”
Tran said having just one timed race and no preliminary event is added pressure.
“You have to do good that first time,” said Tran, a senior. “This season there were times when I messed up in some races. I can’t let that happen. We want to be top eight in that 400 free relay.”
Senior Kaylee Nagel also qualified for a pair of individual events for the girls meet. Nagel is seeded third in the 50 free (23.63) and fifth in the 100 free (52.29). She finished fourth in both races at last year’s state meet.
“I just want to go as fast as I can and hope to place my best,” said Nagel. “This year is very different with COVID. We can only have one parent there and that is hard. I just want to do the best I can.”
Brown said the swimmers can not focus on their seed times or what place they are projected to finish.
“I’m hoping they go out and compete,” said the Napoleon swim coach. “We need to swim our race and stay within ourselves. The seedings are just a number, they still have to go out and perform. If the kids keep doing what they’ve been doing, we’ll be fine.”
Also for the girls meet, Archbold freshman Elizabeth Theobald is seeded 10th in both the 100 butterfly and 100 breaststroke. Wauseon’s Grace Rhoades is 21st in the 500 free and 24th in the 200 free, while teammates Magdalena Duden is 20th in the 500 and Myley McGinnis-Marshall is 22nd in the 500.
The Lady Indians are also seeded 19th in the 400 free relay and 21st in the 200 free relay.
In the boys meet, Bryan’s Kellen Rigg is seeded third in the 200 free and fourth in the 500 free, while Wauseon’s Andrew Scherer is 19th in both the 200 and 500 free events.
Wauseon is 19th in the 400 free relay, while Bryan is 10th in the 200 free relay and 18th in the 200 medley relay.
Napoleon freshman Mara Cashman will start the state championships off, competing in the Division II girls diving meet.
Cashman enters the competition as the fifth seed. Tinora’s Lauren Melia is seeded fourth and Wauseon’s Cameron Estep is 21st.