December 09, 2021

Aquagirls continue to buy in to relays

NCMP’s relays post top 15 qualifying times at regional meet

The tears were flowing for swimmers on the NCMP girls swim team at the end of the regional meet on Saturday.

Some of the tears were from seniors who swam in the final meet of their prep careers. Others were emotional because their friends were crying. And the rest were just happy to be with their friends after a big day in the pool.

Six Aquagirls will be part of this weekend’s state swim meet in Marshalltown, and that doesn’t include any alternates that make the trip.

NCMP did its thing in the Trail Point Aquatics & Wellness Center pool in Ankeny as every single swimmer had either a season-best or personal-best time.

They also continue to buy in to the coaching staffs’ emphasis on relays.

“For me, swimming in an individual event is nothing compared to swimming on a relay,” junior Lillie Ray said. “You have three other girls there with you who are depending on you and you are depending on them. We are all so close anyways. It’s so much more fun to swim with them.”

Ray will be in four events at the state meet, including all three relays. She probably could have forfeited her spot in one of the relays to try to get to state in another individual event.

But these Aquagirls love the relays. And they want to be part of the success.

That includes senior Hannah Nedder, who also advanced to state in four events. She is one of the top butterfly swimmers in the entire state this fall but also would have been one of the top seeds in the 100 freestyle at Saturday’s regional meet.

But NCMP head coach Sarah Patterson wants her fastest swimmer in the relays and Nedder is more than happy to be a part of their success. In fact, it’s a joint decision with her and the coaches.

“We could get to state in those relays without me on them, but I like being a part of them,” Nedder said. “I love my team and I love the camaraderie with the relays. We got the school record today, too, so that was fun. I don’t ever want to not do them just because I can make it another individual event.”

The school-record performance came in the 400-yard freestyle relay. Nedder led off that relay and was joined by Lillie and Peyton Ray and Maylei Ruggles.

The Aquagirls also are close to setting school records in the other two relays, too.

Patterson said Nedder wants to be a part of the relays because she’s team oriented. But it’s also tricky with her two best events coming back-to-back on the schedule.

“I think she sees the relays as fun,” Patterson said. “She would have likely been the top seed in the 100 freestyle today, but her heart is with the relays and with her teammates.”

The other two swimmers who complete the three relays are seniors Maggie Garrett and Alexa Heiar. Garrett swims on the 200 freestyle relay. Heiar will be in three events at the state meet, including a pair of relays.

“We just see it as a team opportunity, and it’s one event where we can all come together and show what we have as a team and buy in as a group,” Heiar said. “We can strive to do our absolute best while lifting others up, too.”

This year’s relay teams all posted top 15 state qualifying times and will be in the mix for a spot on the medal stand on Saturday in Marshalltown.

With so many seniors and a talented group of freshmen on this year’s roster, it’s clear the competition inside the pool in their own practices has put the Aquagirls in the state conversation this fall.

And they might just set another school record in the process.

“We are really excited to be able to go state and have one more opportunity to set more school records,” Nedder said. “We are excited about that.”

Nedder, Heiar, Ruggles and Lillie Ray all will compete in individual events at the state meet. Nedder and Ruggles swim in the 100 butterfly, Lillie Ray is in the 50 freestyle and Heiar qualified in the 100 breaststroke.

The preliminary round for individual events is Friday night at the Marshalltown YMCA. The top 16 advance to Saturday’s finals.

The relay teams will compete on Saturday. The top eight finishers in each event earn a spot on the medal stand.

Contact Troy Hyde at