Nixa High School’s top swimmer is back with the program this winter with a new attitude toward the sport.
Senior Anna Brinck is one of the leaders of the Eagles and has returned to the team after taking a year away from the program. She said she’s rejuvenated and ready to do whatever is needed for the team and coach John Mullen.
“We all have really good attitudes, and that makes the atmosphere really nice to be around,” she said just before the season began. “After the summer, when I got around the girls, I really came to appreciate them, and I really missed being around everybody and the team.
“I’m kind of going into it, just there to have fun.”
She was originally going to race in relays for Nixa, but already has made an impact in sprint relays. Her 25.55-second swim in the 50-yard freestyle last week against Rogersville is a state-qualifying time.
Brinck, who placed 13th at state as a sophomore in the 100 freestyle, also won that event last week, swimming a 58:08.
She also was a part of the state-qualifying 400 and 200 freestyle relay teams so far this season.
“She’s got her confidence back and realized that she’s really not far off (where she was as a sophomore),” Nixa coach John Mullen said. “Her flat start 50 time (last week) was maybe her best ever.”
Nixa’s pre-practice yoga sessions and giving back to the community are ways Nixa is bonding early on this season.
“We’re just trying to make it more fun and trying to make it more of a team thing, too,” four-year senior Anna Martin said, adding the team has pasta parties the night before bigger meets. “Our goals are just to come closer as a team this year. That’s really it.”
Mullen said many girls come to practices a half-hour early voluntarily to do yoga and other dry land exercises.
In addition to Brinck, Nixa’s Elle Moon also has qualified for state in the 200 individual medley.
Across the Ozarks, other athletes also are posting state cuts. For Glendale, Nikki Sisson and Macie Beairsto already have qualified for state, in addition to Rogersville’s Emma Metz. Kickapoo diver Olivia Willoughby also has qualified, according to results posted to directathletics.com.
Glendale has qualified relays in the 400 freestyle and the 200 medley.
The All-City Relays were held for Springfield schools on Thursday night. Most of the swimmers across the area will compete in the Ozarks Invitational on Jan. 5 at the John H. Foster Natatorium.