Neil Shalin’s girls swimming notebook

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Benet coach Sarah Maggio knew from the start of practice that the Redwings had something special in freshman Ally Michaels.

“She came in just ready and willing to work hard,” Maggio said. “She has lofty goals and she’s very motivated to achieve them. She’s a little quiet but she lets her swimming do the talking.”

In practice Michaels and senior Kate Joyce are both lane-leaders and the two girls have developed a friendly competition that has worked out great for both of them.

“They go head-to-head in almost everything,” Maggio said. “They’re competitive people and they can both swim every event. They push each other to work and train that much harder than they would apart.”

“It’s good to have someone to go up against who can help you succeed,” Michaels said. “We’ve got a big sister-little sister relationship and she’s especially supportive and always cheering me on. And we’re on the same relays so we interact a lot.”

Maggio believes that Joyce is a possibility to score at state in at last one event.

Michaels is planning on qualifying in both the 100 butterfly and the 100 backstroke and she hopes to swim on both free relays at state.

“It’s interesting that my best chance of making state is in the backstroke,” Michaels said. “A year ago I wasn’t really good at the backstroke. Now it’s one of my specialties.”

Michaels’ long-range goal is to make it to the top-six in her individual events by her senior year.

Junior Hannah Davidsen will be an important player in Metea Valley’s postseason lineup.

Davidsen, who has been one of the Mustangs most consistent performers all year, is expected to qualify for state in the 100 backstroke.

She has a good chance to make it in the IM, as well, and she’ll swim the backstroke on the 200 medley and will also be on 200 free relay teams that are both potential qualifiers.

“Hannah has a great work ethic,” Metea coach Mark Jager said. “She approaches every meet and every practice as a learning opportunity. She also has high expectations for herself and she turns it up a notch when she’s competing against top swimmers from top-notch schools. She never backs down from a challenge. That competition is making her a better all-around swimmer.”

Waubonsie Valley swimming coach Katie Peterson characterizes sophomore sprinter Avery Mathew as a “fighter and a competitor.”

“She’s a racer who goes into every race expecting it to be her best,” Peterson said. “And she’s a leader. It’s very important to her to make sure the team does well.”

The coach is hoping that Mathew can qualify for state in both the 50 and the 100 freestyle.

“Avery is close to the state cut in both,” Peterson said. “I hope she’ll do it at conference this week. If not, then I believe she can at sectionals.”

Peterson can also appreciate Mathew for her ability to see the lighter side of things.

“She likes to make practice fun,” Peterson said. “But she knows when to be serious and when to come up with a joke. That’s important, because sometimes you need a little fun to relieve some of the pressure and make practice more pleasant.”

Warriors senior Madeline Hunt has made a verbal commitment to attend Vanderbilt next fall.

Hunt finished fourth in the 50 freestyle and sixth in the 100 backstroke at last year’s state meet.

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