The progression of the Garden City High School girls swimming program in Jennifer Meng’s first two years as head coach can simply be explained when discussing the seeding places for the Buffs when the Class 6A state swimming meet begins Friday.
The meet, which will be held at the Topeka-Capitol Federal Natatorium, will get under way for the Buffs at 2 p.m. when preliminaries are run in all events.
This year, the Buffs have qualified all three of their relay teams — 200-yard medley, 200-yard freestyle and 400-yard freestyle.
Along with those teams, two Buffs — senior Grace Schmidt and junior Emma Tull — each qualified in two individual races, forcing Meng to pull two other swimmers into the relay teams as the swimmers can compete in no more than four events combined (individual/relays).
Tull qualified in the 200-yard individual medley (swimming all four strokes) with a Western Athletic Conference record time of 2:20.74 and in the 100-yard breaststroke with a mark of 1:12.23.
Schmidt will compete in the 200-yard freestyle (2:05.76) and the 100-yard backstroke (1:06.22).
“Overall, I just feel better about it this year,” Meng said of the preparation for state. “We were better trained this year, and I think we’re gonna be really ready.”
Meng said the time leading up to the state saw the swimmers go through a tough workout last Friday and then workouts tapered off this week.
“We worked on the sprints, fine-tuning starts, turns, finishes, just a little bit of everything,” Meng said. “Those are the critical things when you’re talking about hundredths of seconds in some of the races.”
With Schmidt and Tull limited to two relays, Meng will use sophomore Megan Allen in the 200-yard freestyle relay, where they have posted a 1:50.36 when Schmidt and Tull swam on the team. Kirstin Neff, Allen, freshman Ashleigh Chappel and sophomore Emily Ortiz will comprise that grouping.
The 200-yard medley, which has posted a 2:01.4 and is seeded No. 16, will be comprised of Schmidt (backstroke), Tull (breaststroke), Neff (butterfly) and Ortiz (freestyle).
The 400-yard freestyle relay, with a qualifying time of 3:59.53, another WAC record, will see Neff, Chappel, Tull and Schmidt swim the four legs of the race.
“I just believe everybody is swimming better, faster than they were a year ago,” Meng said of her upperclassmen group. “Emma had a good shot last year and just didn’t swim her best in the prelims. I expect we’ll do much better this time around.”
The fastest 16 times in each event will advance from Friday’s preliminaries, scheduled for 2 p.m. for Saturday’s finals, set for a 3:30 p.m. start.