Erik Olson could sense his standout swimmer was struggling with something.
The Pulaski girls swimming and diving coach knew there was nothing physically wrong with junior Corrin Van Lanen.
But Olson felt something in her approach needed to change.
“She needed to build her mental muscle as a top-level athlete,” Olson said. “I gave her a couple of books to read in regards to how to mentally train. I think that was the next phase for her to continue to develop that mental part.”
One of the books Van Lanen received was called “Mind Gym: An Athlete’s Guide to Inner Excellence.”
It ultimately helped guide her through another stellar season that culminated with Van Lanen being named Fox River Classic Conference swimmer of the year for a third time and earning a pair of individual medals at the WIAA Division 1 state swimming and diving meet for a second straight season.
Van Lanen received all-state recognition from the Wisconsin Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association for placing fourth in the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 55.35 seconds and second in the 50 freestyle in a time of 23.46 seconds at state.
For her efforts, Van Lanen is the Press-Gazette Media girls swimmer of the year.
“I think my junior year was my toughest year yet,” said Van Lanen, who won sectional titles in the 100 butterfly and 50 freestyle. “I definitely knew the competition was going to be tough. I think the outcome of that was pushing through it to have a season I can be proud of.”
Van Lanen entered the season carrying the weight and pressure of being a returning state champion in the 100 butterfly.
While she didn’t repeat, Van Lanen posted a faster time in the event than 2012 to win a third medal in as many years and qualify for the USA swimming nationals.
“She met some of her goals and some of those goals she didn’t meet,” Olson said. “I think it’s OK for her to get knocked down a little bit because I think it’s going to motivator as she goes forward. I think the best is yet to come for her.”
Van Lanen, who has won five individual state medals, also was the anchor leg on Pulaski’s state-qualifying 200 and 400 freestyle relay teams.
“The support this year from my teammates was just awesome,” Van Lanen said. “I give it all to them for my success this year because they were always there.”
2013 Press-Gazette all-area prep girls swimming and diving team
Isabella Bunchek, fr., Ashwaubenon: She won the Fox River Classic Conference title and was the first diver in school history to qualify for the WIAA state meet, finishing 10th in Division 2 in the 1-meter dive.
Ali Hanson, jr., Shawano/Bonduel: In addition to advancing to D1 state as a member of a relay for a third straight year, the Bay Conference swimmer of the year qualified as an individual for the first time in the 100 and 50 freestyle, where she earned honorable mention all-state honors.
Clare Martell, so., Shawano/Bonduel: Became a two-time D1 state qualifier as a leg on the 200 medley relay and 100 breaststroke, where she placed seventh and got honorable mention all-state honors. She won Bay titles in two individual events and two relays.
Claire O’Connell, jr., Ashwaubenon: Qualified for D2 state in four events for a third straight year and was a three-event medalist. She won her third straight individual medal in the 100 butterfly by placing fourth, earning all-state recognition.
Kira Pless, jr., Ashwaubenon: Won a FRCC title and posted a third straight top 10 finish in the 500 freestyle at D2 state. She was also a sectional champion in the 200 freestyle.
Arica Smith, sr., Sturgeon Bay/Sevastopol: The UW-Milwaukee recruit qualified for D2 state in four events for a fourth time. She earned her first individual state medals by placing fifth in the 100 freestyle and third in the 50 freestyle, where she got all-state honors.
Rosalyn Stoa, jr., G.B. Preble/East: Won the FRCC title and became a two-time D1 state qualifier in the 100 freestyle in addition to advancing to state in the 200 freestyle for the first time.
Allison Teske, sr., Ashwaubenon: The Akron recruit was a four-event medalist at D2 state, earning individual medals in the 100 breaststroke and 200 medley, where she took second. She made honorable mention all-state in the 100 breaststroke and all-state in the 200 individual medley. Teske was a 15-time state qualifier in her career and earned nine state medals.
Corrin Van Lanen, jr., Pulaski: The three-time FRCC swimmer of the year earned individual medals and all-state recognition at the D1 state meet by placing fourth in the 100 butterfly and taking second in the 50 freestyle. She became a 12-time state qualifier in her career and has won five individual state medals.
Ashwaubenon relays (Claire O’Connell, jr.; Olivia Steffel, jr.; Annie Stone, sr.; Allison Teske, sr.; Rebecca Teske, jr.; Hannah Van Dalen, so.) Jaguars won FRCC titles advanced to D2 state in the 200 medley, 200 freestyle and 400 freestyle relays. They medaled at state by placing fifth in the 200 medley and third in the 400 freestyle, where they earned all-state recognition.
Coach of the year
Jennifer Steffel, Ashwaubenon: The FRCC coach of the year guided the Jaguars to their first conference title since 2000 with the squad winning eight events at the FRCC meet. Ashwaubenon also reached the D2 state podium in five events and placed fifth, which matched the program’s best finish in 1994.
Mara Danner, jr., Pulaski; Katie Kaminski, fr., Sturgeon Bay/Sevastopol; Alaina Laird, fr., Pulaski; Maddie Sarkis, so., Sturgeon Bay/Sevastopol; Morgan Senogles, fr., Bay Port; Rachel Slaby, so., Pulaski; Annie Stone, sr., Ashwaubenon; Becca Teske, jr., Ashwaubenon; Hannah Van Dalen, so., Ashwaubenon.