Rob Miecznikowski was a little apprehensive about his 400-yard freestyle relay team entering the regional meet last weekend. Knowing relays can pile up a lot of points, the West High girls swimming team was on the verge of not qualifying for state in the event.
But the Women of Troy qualified easily.
The group bested its previous time by nine seconds, finishing in 3 minutes, 42.49 seconds.
“We were a little bit nervous about the 400, but they knew what they were capable of doing,” Miecznikowski said. “I had a talk with them: ‘You know guys, we need to pull this together, like, now. We’re running out of time, here.’ And they did. You sit back and wait and wait as a coach, and they drop nine seconds at a regional meet. They did a great job.”
The 400 freestyle relay team, along with the other two relays — the 200 medley and 200 freestyle relays — qualified for the state meet Saturday in Marshalltown. Erica Hsu and Sarah Ritchie each qualified in the 200 individual medley, while Hsu also advanced in the 500 freestyle. Jacintha Thomas and Alex Aaberg are heavy favorites to place in diving, which takes place today.
At practice at the Coralville Community Aquatic Center this week, the Women of Troy were focused. There weren’t a lot of changes despite the last and most important meet of the season approaching.
“(We’re) working on our starts, our turns, and our exchanges on relays,” Miecznikowski said. “I think the big thing is just getting a little more rest. You rest them, but you don’t want to rest them too much. Every individual is different on how much rest they get.”
One swimmer who will be close to fully rested Saturday is Hsu. The junior dropped 10 seconds in the 500 freestyle since the close of the regular season.
Although Hsu contributed in 2013, Miecznikowski called Hsu “kind of a sleeper” this fall.
“We started focusing a lot on my 500 pace and it really paid off last weekend,” Hsu said.
West finished seventh at state last season and 10th in 2012. Another top-10 finish could be on the horizon for the Women of Troy, especially with the possibility of Thomas and Aaberg garnering podium finishes. Thomas has the second-best qualifying score heading into today’s action, and Aaberg is sixth.
Not many schools can maintain that type of success in prep swimming.
“We keep our numbers solid,” Miecznikowski said. “We’re not dropping into the 20s and then back to the 40s. We’re constantly in the 40s and 50s. Most of the time, the freshmen come in and they know what’s going on, so by sophomore year they can really do some things. Depth is really important.”
Reach Matt Cozzi at firstname.lastname@example.org or 887-5409.