A blink of an eye.
That could be all the difference in the world for Brainerd Warriors swimmer Andrew Mehr as he prepares to compete in the Class 2A state swimming and diving meet Thursday through Saturday at the University of Minnesota Aquatics Center.
The junior will swim in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle events, which are comparable to the 100 dash in track and field.
Mehr is seeded 17th in the 50 and 18th in the 100. He will need to swim near perfect races in order to advance to the second day of competition.
"Andrew's really going to have to step it up a notch to make the top 16," Warriors coach John Zemke said. "But he's confident and he said he feels better this week than before sections. He has some goals and times he wants to accomplish."
In the 50 and 100 freestyles, if a swimmer is off just a little bit on his start or doesn't come out of the turns clean, it could spell disaster.
"Of the 30 or so swimmers in the 50, everyone has about the same time," said Zemke. "The kids that hit the start and turn are going to be swimming the next day. Andrew spends a lot of time working on those things so he'll be ready.
Swimming-diving state meet
University of Minnesota Aquatic Center
Thursday's Diving Prelims
6 p.m., Class 2A
Friday's Swimming Prelims
Class 2A, 6 p.m.
Class 2A swimming and diving, 6 p.m.
"It's not rocket science. You swim down and back. A lot of it comes down to desire."
And mental toughness. It's the mental part of swimming where Mehr has succeeded this season.
"We spend a lot of time before sections and state on mental preparation," said Zemke. "Andrew spends more time individually than we do as a team on mental prep so he can get that edge and not be overwhelmed by the atmosphere at state."
The emergence of diver Scott Tetreault has been the surprise of the season for the Warriors. Tetreault, an eighth-grader, placed second at sections to earn a spot at state.
Tetreault will be the first diver to perform Thursday in the opening round of qualifying. The field is cut after five rounds and again to get to the final 16.
"We're hoping Scott makes it past the first cut," Zemke said. "He really has to hit his first five dives. Coach (Owen) Trout put some high degree of difficulty at the beginning of his dives. This is a great opportunity for Scott. Hopefully, he'll make the most of it."
Just getting state meet experience will be invaluable for Tetreault. Last year's state champion, former Brainerd diver Shaun Kennedy, made his first trip to state as an eighth-grader.
"The younger you can get your divers down to state the hungrier they get to want to improve," said Zemke. "This is a great stepping stone for Scott's future in diving."
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