Emma Herold is going to leave quite a legacy when she wraps up her prep career for the Kohler co-op swim team at the end of this season.
Her younger teammates and future team members can see the results of her hard work, a two-time WIAA State Meet qualifier and five-time state medal winner entering her senior season. She has set team records, meet records and even broke a 14-year-old Eastern Wisconsin Conference record a year ago.
Accolades and awards, records and medals are all very nice and well deserved, but the most important lesson Herold hopes the up-and-coming swimmers can take from her achievements the last four years, actually has nothing to do with, well, achievements.
“I hope that they learn to just have fun and enjoy the sport. It’s such a great sport,” Herold said. “I hope that they realize it’s not all about the pressure and getting a certain time, it’s about having fun as well.”
Herold, who attends Kohler High School, entered her seniors season as one of the top freestyle sprinters in Division 2.
She finished third at state in the 50-yard freestyle and fourth in the 100-yard freestyle at last year’s state meet and the champion in both events — as well as the runner-up in the latter race — have graduated.
“The competition (at state) was awesome,” said Herold, who also was a part of two relays that placed at state. “The girls were so fast so that really motivated me to try to get on the medal stand. And it worked out well.”
Herold’s signature race is the 50-yard freestyle, a race in which she also earned a state medal as a sophomore.
It’s the fastest race on the docket of events at a swimming meet, where hundredths of a second can determine a handful of places. Yet, it’s that fast and furious nature of the event that Herold likes most about it.
“I like it because it’s all out, give it everything you have and leave it all in the pool,” Herold said. “That’s also what makes it difficult. It’s only a 50 so you only have 50 yards to make it count.
“I love that it’s just all out. You put it all in the pool at once. There’s no pacing. It’s just leave it out there.”
The slightest hiccup in a race like the 50-yard freestyle can huge effect on the final outcome, which means Herold has to be mentally ready for the race as much as physically.
“There is no room for error,” Herold said. “You have to know your training will carry you through. Be confident in the training that you’ve done and hope for the best.”
Herold started swimming competitively when she was 8 years old after one of her coaches in summer league encouraged her to pursue the sport.
Already comfortable in the water, Herold took to it immediately.
“I ended up really, really liking it. More than any other sports I had tried and I stuck with it,” Herold said. “Like everyone, sometimes you can get tired and worn down. That’s really where your coaches and teammates come into play and their desire to excel in the sport. That motivation is key when you can get tired.”
The camaraderie of the sport is one of the things that Herold enjoys most about being involved in swimming.
Yes, it’s nice to see when hard work does pay off, but the bonds built swimming countless laps during a practice — or knowing that an opponent has done that as well — is something that will last long after she stops winning races and earning medals.
“You meet so many nice people and it’s so rewarding,” Herold said. “I think just the relationships you form with people (is the best thing about swimming), whether it be coaches or teammates. We all motivate each other in the pool and out of the pool. Those relationships help keep you motivated.”
Herold, who would like to continue her career at the collegiate level, also appreciates the escape being in the pool provides.
“That’s one of the great things about swimming, you can forget about all of the stress related to school and homework and all of those things,” Herold said. “You can really focus on what you’re doing, focus on your technique, focus on your stroke and focus on getting better.”