After arriving at Lockport’s first swimming practice a few weeks ago, Amanda Moran had a strange moment.
Standing on the pool deck with her teammates, she looked around and couldn’t find who she was looking for. Where, exactly, were the seniors?
“We’re looking around and then thought, ‘Oh, wait, it’s us,’ ” Moran said with a laugh. “It was so weird.”
Moran has come a long way from the sophomore who burst on the scene with a fifth-place state finish in the 100-yard backstroke. She finished eighth in the backstroke last season and is poised for her best finish yet as she heads into her senior campaign.
“I can’t believe it’s been four years since she walked onto that deck,” Lockport coach Grant Ferkaluk said. “It went by quick, from a freshman contributing to a strong, senior-heavy team, to the point where she’s the senior now.”
Eyeing one last shot at a state medal, Moran sees the potential in front of her. It’s just there for the taking, with Glenbrook South’s Olivia Smoliga now swimming at Georgia. As a senior in 2012, Smoliga won the 100 backstroke at the state meet at Evanston, setting a national record with her 51.43-second time in the championship heat.
“Olivia isn’t here anymore, so this is my chance to be the swimmer the other swimmers are coming after,” Moran said. “My goal is, obviously, to improve and make it to the second day [at state]. I was disappointed to be swimming in the B flight last year, not the A flight.”
As for pressure to perform, she just isn’t feeling it. Coming off a nerve-racking junior postseason, Moran figures her senior season is there for the taking.
In hoping to qualify for state in 2012, Moran didn’t taper train, shave or wear a specialized suit. She instead counted on her natural ability to get her through the sectional round.
Moran failed to advance in the butterfly, but she advanced in the backstroke by the skin of her teeth. At state, Moran cut 2.24 seconds off her sectional time.
“I was really worried about it last year,” Moran said. “I didn’t shave, didn’t taper, didn’t have the suit, so there was more pressure as a junior. This year, I’m a senior, and I’ve got that thought that I’m going to make it, no looking back. If anything, there’s less pressure.”
Individual performance is one thing, but Ferkaluk is seeing another side of his star senior.
“Amanda was always kind of quiet, a little reserved, but she’s come in this year and is encouraging the other swimmers, really bringing people together,” Ferkaluk said. “That maturity, she’s taking control of things, and it’s really great to see.”