Unlike in baseball, sometimes there's crying in girls' swimming and diving.
Brainerd Warriors coach Dan Anderson fondly recalls one of the first times he met Brianna Elg.
"I kind of laugh when I think back to when she came in as a freshman," he said. "Brianna had a whole bunch of talent but had never really been pushed.
"Boy, we pushed her hard as a freshmen. A lot of kids would have broken under that. We saw a lot of talent but the mental part of swimming was not there yet. She became one of the toughest mentally I've ever coached, but it wasn't always that way, so that's a credit to her."
Four years later Elg has developed into one of the Warriors' best swimmers, winning two section titles last weekend and qualifying for next week's state meet for the third year.
"As a freshman I didn't quite have the confidence in swimming and in myself that was needed," Elg said. "I truly needed to get tough. Now I can make it through a practice.
"I used to cry as a freshman in practice. Now I believe in myself. Even though it hurts I know it will be over soon and it will definitely be worth it."
Those grueling workouts helped Elg win the 100-yard section butterfly title and swim the butterfly leg on the section championship 200 medley relay.
She was the top seed and went on to win the section butterfly with a time of 1:04.08.
"At the beginning I was definitely nervous because I really wanted to win," Elg said. "Once I got behind the blocks I felt good. I was more confident in myself. Basically, I told myself, 'You can do this.'
"The first 50 was fast. At the end of that I was a little behind. At 75 I caught up. The last 25 I gave everything I possibly had and slowly pulled away."
Events: 100 butterfly, 200 medley relay, 200 free relay, 50 free
Other sports: Golf, intramural lacrosse
Memorable sports achievement: Winning section 100 butterfly title
Grade-point average: 4.01
Favorite subject: Advanced Placement Psychology
Favorite food: Mashed potatoes
Future plans: Attend college, probably major in psychology or biology, swim
Athlete she admires: Former Warrior Cori Severson
Parents: James and Effie Elg
Elg teamed with Robyn Wernberg, Jessica Reese and Jodi Larson to win the 200 medley relay at 1:54.78.
"Jessica caught us up and got us the lead," Elg said. "I wanted to make sure we were going to win it. I love swimming the third leg. I try to give the biggest lead I can for the last swimmer."
Elg, Destiney Schindele, Christie Nelson and Reese narrowly missed qualifying for state in the 200 free relay. Their time of 1:43.21 missed the time standard to qualify for state by 3/10ths of a second.
"That was very disappointing," Elg said. "Last year the 200 free relay got (disqualified) in the section. This year we got out-touched but we all swam good races."
Elg completed her section meet with an eighth-place finish in the 50 free.
"Actually, I just started swimming the 50 this year because of injuries," she said. "To make the top eight was outstanding for me."
Next week will mark Elg's third state appearance. She previously qualified in the 200 free relay and 200 medley relay.
"When you get in the pool, and see all the officials lined up over the length of the pool, it makes a huge difference," Elg said of competing at previous state meets.
The state meet will also mark Elg's final high school event after four varsity seasons.
"In a way it's sad because I looked forward to swim team since I was 8 when I started at the YMCA," she said. "I always dreamed of being a varsity swimmer.
"It truly hasn't hit me and it probably won't until our banquet. I've definitely grown up from it. It will be sad to say goodbye."
Other notable efforts:
Jessica Reese, swimming, won the section breaststroke title.
Kristin Geppert, swimming, qualified for state in two events.
Jenny Klabo, diving, qualified for state.
Mike Bialka can be reached at email@example.com or at 855-5861.
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