T-minus one day until the Iowa High School girls’ swimming team regionals take place at various locations throughout the state.


In the world of Waukee high school, the Lady Warriors will on the road away from their home pool, but that doesn’t bother them as they will head to a pool that brings a lot of excitement, and for a good reason.


“Saturday we’ll be heading to Fort Dodge and I’m really excited to swim in that pool again,” began junior star Anna Hamling. “The pool in Fort Dodge is a fast swimming pool which can allow for much faster times. When pools have a lip around the edge, the water splashes against the lip and pushes back at you which can slow you down a bit. That’s not the case at Fort Doge as the water is even with the edge of the pool.”


Indeed the Warriors will travel to Fort Dodge on October 27 where they will also be put up against the likes of seven other schools.


The Warriors are coming off of a stellar year last season and have since followed that up with another solid season in 2018. Aside from a few early season losses including a defeat to powerhouse Ankeny, the Warriors have made a strong season out of 2018, showcasing their progress well into the later stages of the 2018 campaign. For Warrior head coach Shelley Twigg, the early losses for her team were just minor bumps in the road.


“Early on in the season we were still looking for who could step up and fill the big voids left by the seniors from last year,” began Twigg. “I think it just took us a few meets to figure ourselves out and once we figured out who works best in what event, we became a really strong team. Then you saw individual swimmers find comfort in certain events.”


A strong team they sure have become since the early losses, earning a top six finish a the Linn-Mar invite, a top three finish at the Tiger Tanker invite, and a meet crown at the Johnston Invite, and of course, the CIML-Central Conference championship. Such a schedule has been the case for Waukee all season long, and it’s led to one of the biggest strengths for the team as noted by coach Twigg.


“Every year at state, you’ll have the strongest teams that can easily overcome obstacles and swim exceptionally fast,” began coach Twigg. “With our conference alone, we have two or three teams each year that are constantly some of the best teams in the state and swimming against top talent like that has only made our girls push harder and their times have dropped tremendously since the beginning of the season. This team always wants to swim against tough teams because that’s who’s going to be at state.”


Swimming against a grueling schedule also has provided extra benefits along with speed improvement. Unlike years past, the regular season in 2018 has given swimmers the chance to qualify for the state meet throughout the course of regular season meets. It has given way for some of the states’ top individual talent to punch their state ticket early. Waukee’s own Anna Hamling is among that group, having already qualified for five separate events. Those events include the 200 freestyle where she’s ranked 13th in the state (1:56.66), the 200 individual medley ranked seventh in the state (2:10.12), and the 100 butterfly where she’s ranked 18th (59.92 seconds). The normal 100-200 distance swimmer has also qualified for the grueling 500 yard freestyle event with a time of 5:15.73 that she acquired on senior night.


It’s a feat not normally seen in swimming, especially at the high school level but it was a seemingly effortless transition for the junior and it all started with a proper mindset.


“At first I wasn’t expecting much, at practice we train distance but we train IM which is what I normally focus on so that is what I focused on when I went out there knowing that I could still stick with my strengths,” said Hamling. “It’s all about proper pacing for me. I negative split all my stuff and I seem to always go faster in my second half so for the first half (of the race) I focus on quicker starts knowing that I will be able to swim strong in the next half.”


Despite having already qualified for state in various events, swimmers who have already qualified for state must swim those events at regionals which for Hamling, could potentially set her up with five different events to swim in just one days time. That may very well seem like a daunting task for the likes of most, but there is no worry from the side of Hamling or coach Twigg.


“The thing that Anna has shown a lot if not the most, is her ability to be versatile and enduring,” began Twigg. “She has shown great ability to be effective in a variety of events because she knows how to push herself yet not overdue herself. She’s also just very skilled and very athletic. She can do so many events in one day and still be great in all of them.”


When the start of regional swimming begins, coach Twigg can be very confident due to one huge component in particular.


“One of the biggest things that has helped our team this year is depth,” said Twigg. “Placing either Anna Hamling or Eve Wiltse in the 500 freestyle is a perfect example of that. Both are 100-200 distance swimmers that have excelled at the 500. We also have so many girls who can just step up if one is not doing so well. It also allows me to play with the lineups a little bit without hurting the performances in the water.”


The Waukee girls’ swimming team will be putting their depth and versatility on the line in the water on Saturday, October 27 in Fort Dodge, and will begin at 12 p.m.