MARSHALLTOWN – The past four seasons have been a rewarding experience for the swimmers on the Atlantic girls’ swimming team.
Just ask Kate Landhuis, the Clarinda student who swims with the Trojans as part of a cooperative program.
And to her, the Iowa state swimming meet was the final chapter in a book.
The prose might describe her swimming the second leg of the 200-yard freestyle relay, in between Aleah Hermansen and fellow senior Anna Lowary, with another senior, Clare Christensen, swimming anchor.
“I love spending time with the girls and just going on the road going to the meets. I’ve really grown as a swimmer through this program,” she said. “It’s like the final chapter in a book, as swimming’s been a big part of my life, since I was little.
“It was awesome. It’s been amazing.”
The four events the Trojans scored in may have been far from their highest finish – coach Dean Junker’s team was 17th out of 30 teams that cracked the scoring columns. But there were some personal bests on this, the final day of the season at the Marshalltown Family YMCA, and Junker had no complaints.
“It was a good day,” said Junker. “I didn’t think we swam as good as I thought we could, but we swam very well. We’re happy.”
It was the final day of the season for two other seniors: Clare Christensen and Anna Lowary.
Of the two, Christensen, who comes from Audubon and is also part of the Atlantic cooperative, had the more successful weekend. After posting qualifying finishes in Friday night’s preliminaries, Christensen came home with a pair of 12th-place finishes, those in the 50-yard freestyle (24.79) and 100-yard freestyle (54.26).
It was a little bit of an emotional time for both Christensen and Lowary.
“The whole meet, during practice and knowing you’re going to be done,” she said, “and it’s a great experience because you’ve worked so hard the past four years doing something you enjoy so much, but it was still a little hard to get through.”
Christensen, opining her state qualifying meet times were better than her state times, said she was also happy to get to participate in several new events this season. She qualified for state in the 100-yard butterfly a year ago, but didn’t make it past prelims.
This year, she was well within qualifying range.
“I was really happy with that,” said Christensen, who hopes to swim in college but is undecided where. “Overall, I’m really happy with how my senior season went.”
There was a little disappointment from Lowary’s perspective in that she didn’t reach the finals of her events, but she was still happy.
“I couldn’t ask for too much more. I have a great team and I got here,” she said. “I dropped time in my 500 so I can’t really be mad with it. I would have loved to have swam at least one event (Saturday) but I got to swim with the relays.
“I wouldn’t change these girls for anything.”
The 200-yard freestyle relay, the one Landhuis swam on, placed two spots ahead of its seed, coming in 11th with a time of 1:40.29. Alexes Reynolds, the only freshman making the trip with the quintet, was on the 400-yard freestyle relay in place of Landhuis, and she, Lowary, Christensen and Hermansen came in 11th, finishing in 3:40.35.
Hermansen, a sophomore participating in her second state meet, said she was a bit more prepared for this meet this time around, as compared to last year.
“Practicewise, we worked hard at the beginning but tapered off toward the end,” she said. “Coming in we had to be mentally prepared and be ready to go out and swim our hardest.”
Reynolds said she leaned on the experience of her teammates to help guide her through Saturday.
“I didn’t get really, really nervous but I got nervous,” she said. “It was really fun and a good experience. I’m glad I got to do it with my team and really excited to see what happens next year.”
Junker was particularly proud of his three seniors, as well as Erin Barrick, who was at the state meet to cheer her team on and also contributed to the team’s success throughout the season.
“They’ve all been really good role models for my girls,” said Junker. “My girls are pretty upset to see them go but they’ve got to move on and keep going. A couple of them are going to keep swimming ... all good stuff.”
Landhuis said her impression of the state meet and participating in it is “indescribable.”
“It’s amazing how this meet works and how all these people come here that try their hardest and dedicated so much time to this,” she said. “It’s really cool being around people that have worked so hard and leave it all in the pool.”
Lowary was also happy with how things worked out, in that Reynolds made the meet as a freshman, that three of four seniors swam and just the overall experience.
“Just give it a try. It’s a lot of hard work but in the end it’s really worth it,” she said. “It’s so rewarding and so much fun.”
In the team race, West Des Moines Dowling ended Ames’ four-year reign as state champions, outdistancing the Little Cyclones 360-328. The Maroons’ four victories and nine top-5 finishes were enough to carry them to the top.
Iowa state girls’ swimming meet
Saturday, Nov. 9, at Marshalltown Family YMCA
Team standings (top 10 and Atlantic): 1. West Des Moines Dowling 360, 2. Ames 328, 3. Ankeny 200, 4. Iowa City West 184.5, 5. Waukee 150, 6. Bettendorf 140, 7. Cedar Falls 127, 8. Iowa City High 114, 9. Johnston 99, 10. Des Moines Lincoln 71, 17. Atlantic 34.
(Champion and Atlantic finish where applicable)
Diving: Sydney Jorgensen (Ankeny) 513.20. 200 medley relay: Dowling 1:42.54. 200 freestyle: Aurora Roghair (IC West) 1:48.85. 200 individual medley: Scarlet Martin (IC West) 2:02.56. 50 freestyle: 1. Jasmine Rumley (Ankeny) 22.53, 12. Clare Christensen (Atlantic) 24.79. 100 butterfly: Martin (IC West) 53.41. 100 freestyle: 1. Rumley (Ankeny) 49.03, 12. Christensen (Atlantic) 54.26. 500 freestyle: 1. Roghair (IC West) 4:50.87. 200 freestyle relay: 1. Ames 1:34.83, 11. Atlantic (Aleah Hermansen, Kate Landhuis, Anna Lowary, Christensen) 1:40.29. 100 backstroke: 1. Katie Broderick (Dowling) 55.53. 100 breaststroke: Mary Martin (Dowling) 1:03.33. 400 freestyle relay: Dowling 3:28.11, 11. Atlantic (Hermansen, Alexes Reynolds, Lowary, Christensen) 3:40.35.