Here for a reason is the 2019 motto for the NCMP Aquagirls. They plan to swim that way at the Iowa Girls High School State Swimming and Diving Championships on Friday and Saturday.
“We’re going in to swim strong and do the best that we can,” senior Erika Van Sickle said. Van Sickle will be competing in her second straight state meet as a member of the NCMP 400-yard freestyle relay.
The annual state swim meet is a two-day event at the Marshalltown YMCA/YWCA.
NCMP has one individual event qualifier and three relays qualified for the swim meet. Individual event preliminaries begin at 5 p.m. Friday with finals on Saturday.
All relays are in timed finals on Saturday. Saturday’s finals begin at noon.
“I know the other girls on the (400) relay have the chance to go next year also. We just want to go out and swim our hearts out as we have all season,” Van Sickle said.
Sophomore Hannah Nedder will compete in four events for NCMP. Nedder has qualified with the 12th fastest time at regionals — 58.51 seconds — in the 100-yard butterfly.
It’s her second straight state meet in the event and on the relays.
The top eight swimmers go to Saturday’s finals. The next eight swimmers will compete in a consolation heat on Saturday. Nedder finished 17th in the 100 butterfly last year at state.
“I’m working on being stronger on the back half of my race. I take it out fast and strong but I need to keep that pace throughout the whole race,” Nedder said. “For the relays, I’m going to swim my best for the team.”
Van Sickle and Nedder will be joined on the 400 freestyle relay by sophomore Lauren Zaabel and freshman Lillie Ray. The NCMP 400 relay team is seeded No. 26 with a season’s-best time of 3 minutes, 49.10 seconds.
Nedder and Ray will be swimming in the first event on Saturday, the 200 medley relay with freshman Maylei Ruggles and senior Kenzie Van Maanen. That team is seeded 15th with a time of 1:52.60.
The Aquagirl 200 freestyle relay team has Nedder, Ruggles, sophomore Maggie Garrett and Ray on it. It is seeded 24th with a time of 1:43.04.
Senior Allison Paulius in the alternate swimmer for the relays. She said she’s trying to be a positive influence on the other girls during practices.
“We’ve worked the whole season for these opportunities and I’m so excited to go as part of the team,” Paulius said.
NCMP head coach Sarah Patterson said, “all these girls are competitors and they are excited about competing at the state meet.”
Patterson has been coaching the Aquagirls for 27 years. NCMP has had at least one state qualifier each of those years.
“It means a lot for me as a senior and I wasn’t sure if we’d have a team to go back this year but late in the season we came together well,” Van Sickle said.
“For the girls who are going for the first time, they just need to have fun and do their best.”
Van Maanen went as an alternate for the relays last year. She will swim the breaststroke leg of the medley relay at state this year.
“Last year was a good experience to see what the state meet was all about and this year I’m excited to actually be participating in it,” Van Maanen said. “We’ve been consistently dropping time on the medley relay this season.”
Van Maanen said the four swimmers work well together in the medley. She said their individual strengths are clear in the relay.
Ruggles leads off the medley with the backstroke. She swims on the 200 freestyle relay also.
“It’s awesome because not many get an opportunity to compete at state,” Ruggles said. “I’m just going to seize my moment and do the best I can on both relays.”
Garrett said she is very excited about swimming on the 200 freestyle relay at state.
“The opportunity to be a part of the state team is tremendous because last year I didn’t even make it to the regional meet,” Garrett said. “It’s amazing to be part of the team.”
Ray will anchor all three relays swimming the freestyle in the medley. She said as a freshman she discovered at regionals how big it all was to compete at this level.
“It’s so exciting. We’re all looking to drop times and we’re so close to the record in the medley relay,” Ray said.
“Our word this week is relentless and we’ve been working on the little things.”
Zaabel is on the 400 freestyle relay. She said it really hadn’t sunk in yet about qualifying for state.
“We’ve picked up the pace again after taper week. I’m excited and ready to go strong through the whole race,” Zaabel said. “I’m working on making my stroke smoother.”
Patterson said the girls are working on little things to make each one have the best competition they can on Saturday. The Aquagirls are there for a reason.
Contact Jocelyn Sheets at
641-792-3121 ext. 6535