ELGIN — Swimmers Ellie Stevenson and Mason Thompson are aiming to make a big splash at this weekend’s Class 5A state championships.
Stevenson, a junior, and Thompson, a senior, will swim in multiple events, so the chance at winning a medal and being named to the All-State team is high. Stevenson will swim in the 200-yard medley, 200 individual medley, 100 freestyle and 200 freestyle relay. Thompson is slated to swim in the 200-yard freestyle, 200 freestyle relay and 400 freestyle relay.
Neither Elgin swimmer has been active in high-level competition for too long. Stevenson began her career as a freshman, and Thompson jumped in the pool two years ago. But both swimmers said they thrive on competition and have excelled this season from rigorous workouts, reducing their times and placing at several meets.
“It’s really exciting,” Stevenson said of her state meet preparation. “I’m pretty nervous, but I’m not too concerned about where I place. I’m more concerned with my times.”
Meanwhile, Thompson has been spending as much time as possible in the pool leading up to the 5A meet.
“I’ve gotten better each meet, so I’m ready for state. I would love to make All-State. That’s my goal,” he said. “I’m practicing hard in the mornings and have a light workout in the afternoons.”
However, his performance in the pool may not be Thompson’s biggest obstacle.
“It’s my head and having the right mindset,” he said. “I’ll have these negative thoughts, so I talk to my coach and I try to cancel everything else out and just swim. I’ve really enjoyed being on swim team the last two years. It’s nerve-wracking at times and it’s my last year, so I want to do well. I’ve had a fun time with my team and coach Corey, and I’m ready to get started (at state meet).”
Stevenson has a little more experience in the pool since she started with the Elgin swim team as a freshman. Each year, she’s shown improvement, which is encouraging to the junior who typically swims on two relay teams and at least two individual events.
“I hope I’ll do well. Our relays have a good chance of getting a medal,” Stevenson said.
Since the regional meet two weeks ago, Stevenson has been focusing on refining her technique and resting.
“I’m taking a deep breath and getting ready for the big meet,” she admitted. “I’ve been tapering my practices with shorter amounts of swimming.”
During the Class 5A West Regional on Feb. 5, Stevenson broke school records in the 100-yard freestyle and 200-yard individual medley races. Stevenson swam the 100-yard freestyle in a time of 1:04.41, which cut almost one second off the old record of 1:05.17. In the 200-yard individual medley, Stevenson shaved almost six seconds off the old record with a time of 2:41.75. The previous mark was 2:47.30.
In addition, Elgin’s 200-yard freestyle relay team of Stevenson, Josie Pearson, Amira Papp-Cservenak and Kylie Delozier set a new school record in that race with a time of 2:03.93. The foursome finished sixth in the West regional and qualified for the state meet.
“The relays haven’t changed much since the start of the year,” Stevenson said. “I think we’re in sync with each other.”
As a team leader, Stevenson believes she’s met the leadership challenge this season.
“I know people are looking to me as a role model and what I do in and out of the pool,” she said. “I think I’ve held myself out there pretty well.”
Outside of the pool, Stevenson has excelled academically by maintaining a 4.0 grade point average, which includes Advanced Placement and concurrent college courses which she is taking this year.
Entering high school, Stevenson had no idea about the Elgin swim team or the grueling practices that awaited her until her best friend convinced her to attend tryouts. Much to her surprise, she made the team.
“I was dying from the workouts before we ever got in the pool. We were running and lifting weights,” she recalled. “I never did sports in middle school or anything, so I just jumped in. I didn’t know any technique, so they separated the newcomers from the returning swimmers.”
After two weeks, Stevenson joined the regular workouts and in the spring, she competed for the first time.
“My first two meets, I sucked,” she said. “I finished last but dropped my time, and that kept me going.”
She’s been going ever since.
If Stevenson, Thompson and their teammates can earn medals this weekend, it will bring to life a goal they’ve had all season.
Following is a list of Elgin’s Class 5A State Swimming Meet qualifiers and the events they will compete in Feb, 17-18. The state meet will be held at Mitch Park YMCA in Edmond.
• Ellie Stevenson: 200-yard medley, 200 individual medley, 100 freestyle, 200 freestyle relay.
• Kylie Delozier: 200 medley, 500 freestyle, 200 freestyle relay.
• Persaus Martinez: 200 medley, 100 breast stroke, 400 freestyle relay.
• Cheyenne Watson: 100 butterfly, 400 freestyle relay.
• Camryn Parker: 100 butterfly.
• Josie Pearson: 200 medley, 200 freestyle relay.
• Amira Papp-Cservenak: 200 freestyle relay, 400 freestyle relay.
• Emily Bean: 400 freestyle relay.
• Mason Thompson: 200-yard freestyle, 200 freestyle relay, 400 freestyle relay.
• Noah Bronkema: 50 freestyle, 200 freestyle relay, 100 backstroke, 400 freestyle relay.
• Logan Squyres: 200 medley relay.
• Zekke Anderson: 200 medley relay.
• Murdoc Bradley: 200 medley relay, 400 freestyle relay.
• John Clipp: 200 medley relay.
• Hunter Monostori: 200 freestyle relay, 400 freestyle relay.
• Jayden Molina: 200 freestyle relay.