Swimmers finish sixth at conference meet

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ESP’s Ava Pensel swims the final link of the 100-meter individual medley July 9 at the Northeast Iowa Conference swim meet in Waukon. The 13-year-old standout swimmer finished second in the event and added another silver medal and a bronze to her collection of hardware before the day was over.

The Elkader Strawberry Point (ESP) swim team finished sixth overall July 9 at the all-day Northeast Iowa Conference swim meet in Waukon.  The nine member teams took part.
Decorah won with 628 points followed by Cresco (492), host Waukon (421), Calmar (402) and West Union with 370.
ESP finished in sixth with 300 points, ahead of Manchester (293), Sumner (266) and Monona/Postville with 222.
Larae Engelhardt, who coaches the Elkader side of the team, was pleased with the finish.  
“Six out of nine. Since we don’t have a lot of boys, that’s pretty good!” said Engelhardt.
Half the events at a swim meet are swum by boys.  Although ESP is blessed with some talented boys, they are short of numbers and forfeit events and points because they have no entry.
To one degree or another, it is a problem besetting other teams, as well.  For the first time, the conference permitted mixed relays because of the shortage of boys.
But Engelhardt was proud of all of her swimmers, boys and girls.
“They swam well today.  There were a few broken (ESP) pool records today by a few of the kids,”  Engelhardt continued.  “Everybody improved their times.”
Local swimmers took home 14 medals, including one first, four seconds, and nine thirds out of 78 events.
ESP’s lone conference champion was Braxton Bormann, who won the boys 8 and under 25-yard backstroke.  The fifth-seed came out of nowhere, shaving 3-1/2 seconds from his time coming in to win the event in 24.31.
Collecting two seconds for ESP was Ava Pensel, who took home silver in both the 11-12 100 medley (1:17.85) and her favorite event, the 50-yard breaststroke, in a personal best time of 39.13.  The seventh grader also added a bronze to her collection, taking third in the 100-yard freestyle event in a time of 1:08.59, eclipsing her previous best by 2.47 seconds.
Another silver medal went to Coral Rork in the girls 25-yard breaststroke.  She shed 2 1/2 seconds off of her best time coming in, finishing the race in 25.35.
The final second place medals went to the girls 8 and under medley relay (1:53.31).  Taking home hardware from that quartet were Ella Morarend, Aspen Rork, Coral Rork and Emmy Garlow.
Evan Baumgartner was the second ESP swimmer to take home three medals.  He earned bronzes in the 200 individual medley (2:51.53), the 50-yard butterfly (30.17) and the 50-yard breaststroke (35.76).
Katie Jaster nearly broke 30 seconds in the 50-yard freestyle.  The freshman took third in a season-best time of 30.03.
Ella Morarend improved on her fourth-place seed to finish third in the 8 and under 25-yard backstroke with a time of 28.95.
ESP is blessed with swimmers who can “fly”.  
Callan Willie left it all in the water, taking over five seconds off of her sixth-place seed time to come in third in the 50-yard butterfly at 32.01.
Also medaling in the 50-yard butterly in her age group was Sarah Baumgarter.  She improved two places and a full second over her seed to take third with a time of 31.59.
Taking home the final conference bronze medal was Carson Willie.  His all-out effort yielded a time of 59.40 in the 100-yard freestyle, knocking over five seconds off of his number six seed time coming in.
Nearly every ESP swimmer met or improved on their seed and their times, not an easy thing, according to Engelhardt.
“It’s difficult.  This is a pressure situation.  The kids don’t think of this as just another meet.  This is conference and sometimes nerves get to kids.”
She also likes the growth she’s seen this summer in the kids.
“We had a lot of kids just improve on their strokes and learn a lot of new strokes that maybe they hadn’t learned before.  Sometimes butterfly and breaststroke are really difficult for kids, and we’ve had a few just get it this year, and that’s really nice because those are hard slots to fill. … We also had a ton of our eight and unders — I think all but two of our eight and unders — started swimming across the pool on their own this year, in both their freestyle and their backstroke.  That’s our future!”

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