November 22, 2022 at 8:58 p.m.
Schirmers reaches podium at Class A state meet
At the Class A Minnesota State High School League Girls’ Swim and Dive Meet at the Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, nothing comes easy. With seeding times for swimmers often sitting so close to each other, the difference between a good race and a great one is magnified.
However, the importance of solid technique and sticking to the small details is not new to the Sauk Centre Streeters. They entered the state meet with representatives in six events and emerged from the eventful three-day competition with four event finalists and 24 team points, good for 24th out of 43 teams.
“They just kept improving all the time,” said James Schreiner, head coach. “That was a common theme for the season. They just kept getting better and doing things better. To see those kids, get rewarded for that, to see it go the way it did and do as well as they did was awesome.”
When the Sauk Centre athletes arrived at the pool for the state preliminary competition Nov. 17, preparation was unlike anything the girls had experienced this season. The swimmers needed to have their suits, caps and goggles checked before every race, and the large-scale environment added to the unfamiliarity.
The 200-yard medley relay team of Stella Schirmers, Brooke Bromenshenkel, Addison Bick and Megan Heveron stepped up first, advancing to the finals with a 10th-place preliminary performance. This same grouping returned to the aquatic center the following day and ended the season on a strong note, taking 12th out of 16 finalist relay teams with a time of 1 minute and 53.52 seconds.
“Schreiner has us visualize to help prepare for our events the night before,” Bick said. “I think that helped all of us with our performances. We also got each other hyped up before we swam.”
Schirmers, a state qualifier in the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke for the second season in a row, mustered a valiant effort in the preliminary butterfly event but failed to position herself in the top 16, logging a 1:00.15 race in taking 19th.
“Since butterfly is one of the more challenging strokes, I’m guilty of choosing backstroke over butterfly in practice,” Schirmers said. “But, in the next year, I’m planning to train more butterfly to improve my endurance.”
The junior was not deterred by missing out on the finals cut. Instead, she channeled her competitiveness and determination into the 100 backstroke, making it to the final day of the season with a sixth-place, 59.80-second swim in preliminaries. She took seventh in the championship heat, nabbing a spot on the podium and receiving a state medal for the first time in her decorated swim and dive career.
“It was super rewarding to be able to stand on the podium, since it’s a goal I’ve always wanted to accomplish,” Schirmers said. “It was something I honestly didn’t think I could do, so I kind of surprised myself.”
Also putting a nice finishing touch on a wondrous fall campaign was senior Megan Heveron. The longtime freestyle specialist entered state as the 18th seed in the 100 freestyle but pushed forward with an excellent preliminary outing, seizing 16th place and keeping her season alive.
“I have swam at competitions like this many times before,” she said. “I knew that a lot of girls would add time and all I needed to do was stay consistent and have a great race.”
Heveron participated in the consolation heat of the 100 freestyle the next day, taking 16th overall with a time of 55.67 seconds. The upperclassmen, who plans on continuing her swimming career at the University of Minnesota-Morris, ended her high school journey the way she wanted: giving it all at the highest level.
“I have battled through many injuries and setbacks, and this season, my hard work has finally paid off,” she said. “I’ve learned that nothing worth having will come easy, and hard work always beats talent.”
Bromenshenkel, at her first-ever state meet appearance, found a way to advance in the 100 breaststroke, outlasting several older than her to snag 16th place in prelims. The eager-eyed Streeter competed hard and kept her time fairly static, finishing 16th with a 1:09.96 mark in the finals.
“I really focused on giving it my best and not letting outside factors I can’t change affect my swimming,” she said. “I needed to believe in myself and push myself as hard as I could to try and break into the top 16.”
Sauk Centre’s final event, the 400 freestyle relay team of Maizie Jennissen, Carmen Loxtercamp, Schirmers and Heveron, managed an impressive 3:46.26 showing, but it was not enough to slide into the state championship race, as the grouping landed in 19th place.
“Many times, especially for relays, the difference between 10th and 16th can be less than a second,” Jennissen said. “So, we just tried to focus on dropping a bit to crack into the top 16, and even though we didn’t, we still were able to move up from 21st to 19th.”
Having a large group of swimmers taking part in the state meet proved to be a boon outside of the point totals in the water. State is more than the competition itself; the team stayed in a hotel, ate team dinners and spent quality time together, and the fall season could not have concluded with more satisfaction for the Streeters.
“I had a lot of fun with the whole experience,” Loxtercamp said. “The hotel was great, we got to go out to eat and go shopping and play games with each other and had a lot of time for bonding.”