Swimming workouts can consist of 3-4-mile practices.
Brainerd Warriors freshman Jessica Reese often would come home after practice this fall questioning whether varsity swimming was an activity she wanted to continue to pursue.
"Practices are very hard," she said. "I didn't expect it to be as challenging as it was. Every day I came home at night wondering, 'How am I doing this?' Somehow I managed to get back in the pool every day. It all pays off in the end."
The strenuous workouts paid off for Reese as she qualified for next week's Class 2A state meet in three events.
"There were days when she wouldn't even look at me because she was in such agony and pain," Warriors coach Dan Anderson said. "She worked through that. That's what good athletes do. The harder they work the faster they go.
"We definitely pushed her but she's a talented kid. When you've got a kid like that you owe it to them to push them to the brink. You just don't want to push them over the brink. I'm extremely proud of how she stepped up, raced kids older and more experienced, and didn't back down a bit."
Reese didn't back down in the 200-yard medley relay or in the 50 freestyle and 100 breaststroke. She helped the relay to the Section 8 championship and qualified by state time standard in her other two events.
On the relay, Reese swims the breaststroke and is the second swimmer off the blocks. She teamed with Robyn Wernberg, Brianna Elg and Jocelyn Jones for a time of 1:55.57.
"Coach said Elk River would be the team that might get closest to us," Reese said. "He said to keep an eye on them but don't rush our starts. We didn't want to push anything."
Reese pushed herself to finish third in the 50 free at 25.60. The state time standard was 25.61.
"Coach told me not to worry about it, that the 50 is not a big race for me and to stay focused on the breaststroke," she said. "I went out, tried to get my best time and ended up making it by 1/100th of a second."
Events: Medley relay, 50 free, 200 free relay, 100 breaststroke
Other sports: Softball
Memorable sports achievement: Qualifying for state meet in three events
Grade-point average: 3.6
Favorite subject: English
Favorite food: Ice cream
Favorite TV show: "Friends"
Hobbies: Socializing, swimming
Future plans: Attend college
Athlete she admires: Teammate Dana Hanson
Parents: Kim and Dave Reese
Anderson said Reese "came out of nowhere" to advance to state in the 50.
"Her seed time in that meet was out of the top 10," he said. "In the prelims she swam the fourth-fastest time. In the finals she was another half-second faster, which in the 50 is incredible. That's like dropping a half-second in 100 the dash."
Reese finished fourth in the 100 breaststroke at 1:09.87, bettering the state standard of 1:10.53 and breaking the school record of 1:10.34 set by Sarah Gervais.
"The school record is something I've been shooting for all year," Reese said. "A lot of girls were encouraging me. I was really nervous. I was 2/10ths away from qualifying the day before. My goal was to make it to state. I focused on what I worked on in practice, gave it my all, made it, and got lots of hugs."
Anderson thought the odds were against Reese in the breaststroke because the section had many top-notch performers in that specialty.
"In the finals she took it out," he said. "She was leading at the halfway mark. We've never had a breaststroker break 1:10. As a freshman, setting a school record and going to state is pretty incredible."
Other notable efforts:
Mike O'Day, football, passed for 133 yards against Champlin Park.
Mike Bialka can be reached at email@example.com or at 855-5861.
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