Swimmers take final strokes toward state championship

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Sarah Boutouis

Junior Mallory Showalter swims backstroke during a 200 yard freestyle. Showalter and three other Redhawk swimmers will compete at the UIL state competition in Austin on Friday and Saturday at the University of Texas Aquatic Center.

Athena Tseng, Guest Contributor

Four Redhawks with the same dream: winning a state championship. That’s what senior Hannah Nguyen, juniors Rachel Easton and Mallory Showalter, and freshman Maria Oushalkas, are trying to do at the UIL State Meet in Austin on Friday and Saturday at the University of Texas Aquatic Center

“We have Mallory Showalter who has broken the school record in the 50 free and 100 backstroke and she qualified in both events. She is currently seeded in the top 8 in the backstroke and seeded somewhere in the top 16 for the freestyle,” head coach Mary Kilgore said. “Maria Oushalkas is qualified in the 100 butterfly and the 200 freestyle and also seeded really well. I am very excited to see those two ladies swim. We also have 2 relays qualified where Mallory and Maria will both swim in both those relays and also have Hannah Nguyen and Rachel Easton. The two relays that are going are the 200 freestyle relay and 200 medley relay.”

The girls all have different goals and expectations for the meet, but for senior Hannah Nguyen, it’s all about having a good end to her high school swim career.

“I’m excited to compete and to have a good time with the other girls,” Nguyen said. “I want to see how well our relay does at state because we placed pretty well in the top 16. It is my last year so I am just hoping to go out on a good note. My goal is to go my best time on a split so hopefully maybe 24 seconds or if not 25 seconds.”

For junior Rachel Easton, swimming at state is about more than winning. 

“I am most excited to travel with my relay and have fun competing against all the other schools,” junior Rachel Easton said. “This will benefit me because some college scouts will be at state and I want to swim in college. My goal for this competition is to drop time.”

While Easton is using this opportunity for college, Showalter is eager about meeting others and getting closer to her teammates.

“I am excited to spend the weekend with my team and racing on Friday and Saturday,” Showalter said. “This is a really great experience, as we get to meet new people and swim against some really great swimmers. I really hope to make it back to finals on Saturday.”

As the only freshman that qualified for state, has a simple goal. 

I’m excited to swim my best and make awesome memories with all of the district,” Oushalkas said. “It feels pretty great to be a freshman going to state. Getting to prove myself just as a freshman is great and really gives me that edge to do better every time. My goal is to go back for finals on Saturday and maybe even place in the top eight.”

To prepare for state, Kilgore walked the girls through different exercises and practice every day with a heavy focus on the relays. 

“We have to practice the timing of when they swim into the wall and when they go off of the block,” Kilgore said. “So the relay has a different kind of adrenaline rush than watching one person go off the block and do their own race. I try to put myself in their shoes and think about what they are thinking before the race and what splits they need to hit. There are no two races that are exactly alike, that’s what I’m excited for. It’s just seeing them prep for weeks and weeks and months and months. All of it is coming together and they get a chance to compete on Friday.”

With the swimmers having goals for themselves, Kilgore does as well. 

“I hope for us to get to the finals and get best times. That’s my hope and I would feel very proud of them to see them go to finals and do the best they have done the whole season,” Kilgore said. “I’m excited to see all of them compete. It would be awesome to see the best time. I would also love to see them swim again on Saturday to see their hard work pay off and make it into finals that would just be great and I would feel that Liberty represented itself really well.”