Panthers gear up for fine state showing

by Greg Ceilley of The Review staff


THE PLYMOUTH PANTHERS’ D-2 state swim/dive qualifiers are (left to right) Sydney Kalk, Anna Theisen and Savannah Arneson. Theisen will swim the 200- and 500-yard freestyle races. Kalk and Arneson will compete in the diving event. – Photo by Dave Coley THE PLYMOUTH PANTHERS’ D-2 state swim/dive qualifiers are (left to right) Sydney Kalk, Anna Theisen and Savannah Arneson. Theisen will swim the 200- and 500-yard freestyle races. Kalk and Arneson will compete in the diving event. – Photo by Dave Coley PLYMOUTH – The Plymouth Panthers’ state qualifiers for the Division 2 girls swimming and diving meet hope to keep the momentum going after strong sectional performances last weekend at the PHS pool.

Representing the Panthers will be junior Savannah Arneson and freshman Sydney Kalk in diving and senior Anna Theisen in the 200- and 500-yard freestyle races. All three competitors had their personal-best performances in the sectional.

The state meet will be held Friday at the UW-Madison Natatorium, with diving starting at 2:30 p.m. and swimming at 6:30.

“We are not seeded [based on sectional performances] to get any medals but all three qualifiers had an awesome sectional meet, so I think they are in a positive mindset for having a great state meet,” said Panther head coach Clare Sedlacek.

“As a coach, you just want your kids to feel great about their competition and they should because they are among the best in the state in their event.

“The divers need to have a solid week of practice and continue to work hard on their dives to make them as polished as possible. The comfort they have with their dive list is extremely important,” Sedlacek pointed out.

Arneson and Theisen have previous state experience, having competed in Madison last year. Arneson finished 11th to lead the PHS state divers. Theisen was a member of the 200 and 400 freestyle relays.

“The trick for distance swim- mers is to hit and hold taper. Anna worked hard Monday and Tuesday this week, then we’ll drop off the yards but keep up the intensity. Getting her to concentrate on great technique is really important for Friday,” said Sedlacek.

Theisen is seeded 14th in the 200 and 12th in the 500 – both in very strong fields. The top-six finishers in each state event earn medals.

“In the 200 there are 12 competitors who have a 1:58.22 to 2:00.95 seed time. The four fastest seeds will probably be a lock for a medal but traditionally someone from the first heat is able to jump up and snag a medal. It’s going to be a great race,” said Sedlacek.

“Anna’s heat in the 500 is going to be really competitive. These 500s at state are some of the best races to watch because of their closeness in times.”

Sedlacek thinks the state experience for Arneson and Theisen is very helpful.

Arneson is seeded eighth and Kalk, 11th, in the diving field.

“There is less than 44 points between fifth and 11th. If they have a good day, they both could move up into the top six and medal,” said PHS diving coach Greg Heberlein who will serve as one of the D-2 state diving judges.

“Our main goal is to dive well and try to come close to their sectional scores. If they can score higher, that would be the frosting on the cake. I want them to go to Madison and have fun. This is more of a reward for having a successful season.”

Heberlein pointed out what the divers are focusing on in practice this week.

“They are diving great in practice. Repetition is so important. They’re just doing what got them to a great sectional performance,” he said.

“They need to repeat on the Madison Natatorium diving board what they did on their own board last week and try not to let the big stage get to them. So their confidence in what they are doing is of the utmost importance.

“This has been such a great season. They are so much fun to coach and work with, and they have such a positive attitude,” said Heberlein.

“We miss Mike Slagle and are dedicating our performances to him.”

Slagle, who passed away in July, was the Panthers’ longtime and very successful head girls swimming coach.

The entire PHS team had a strong sectional as the Panthers placed third. Sedlacek was very pleased with the team which had several season-best and personalbest performances.

The Panthers’ sectional showing was capped off by the 400 freestyle relay which finished fourth and dropped an impressive five seconds from its previous seasonbest time. The relay included Katy Coley, Nichole Bartzen, Lindsey Karczewski and Theisen.


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