Swimmers sole owners of conference title


The Mirror reporter

As fall sports are coming to a close there is still one sport that is just starting to prepare for post-season competition. The Stevens Point Area High School (SPASH) girls swim team has just finished their last dual conference meet finishing the season undefeated with a 6-0 record.

“I hope the girls walk away from this season with the sense that the effort they put in all season was worth it,” Coach Mary Stone said.

There are 35 swimmers on the team and they are all starting to wind down for their final meets of the year. Friday, Oct. 21 was Pink Panther which is JV conference. It is held at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (UWSP) and hosted by the SPASH team every year. This year the SPASH JV team won the Pink Panther placing first with 551 points; the second place finisher was DC Everest with 362 points. SPASH swam the other teams out of the water throwing best time after best time onto the scoreboard.

“I love Pink Panther because it’s a chance for JV swimmers to get their time to shine,” Anissa Zaske, SPASH junior, said.

The following Thursday, Oct 27 was varsity conference which held at UWSP. SPASH won the conference title earing 544 points. Second place finisher DC Everest scored 515.5 points. This is the first solo conference title that SPASH has won since 2000. They tied with Everest last year.

The season started off with a bang when at their second meet of the season SPASH had already broken a record. The record broken was the 400 freestyle relay pool record which consisted of Anna Vendehey, Kennedy Gilbertson, Casey Summers and Alex Raczek.

“It was really amazing to be able to break a record, especially so early in the season,” Summers, a sophomore at SPASH, said, “It set a good precedent for the rest of the season and the other record we all hope to break.”

The relay wasn’t the only record broken, Julia Stupar broke the 100 fly team record previously held by Natalie Neuwirth. Stupar didn’t just beat the record, she blew it out of the water swimming a 58.89 seconds where the previous record was 59.20 seconds.

“I was working toward getting a team record since freshman year so it was really special to finally get one,” Stupar, captain and junior on the SPASH swim team, said.

Two years ago SPASH swimming got a new head coach, Daylyn Hopp, and each year the team had a different mantra. The first year it was we will rise the next year it was we believe. This year their phrase is dream bigger.

“Dream Bigger…This year we are focusing beyond any goals we had in the past.  Two years ago we focused on our conference…last year we focused on moving through the sectional meet…this year we are focusing on what we can do on a bigger stage, in a bigger arena…we are dreaming bigger,” Coach Hopp said.

Each year they did exactly what they set out to do. First they rose and placed second at conference behind Wausau East. Then they believed and ended East’s 12 year winning streak and tied for first at conference with DC Everest, placing second at sectionals and sending four girls to state.

Not only is SPASH gaining speed and winning meets. Swimmers on the team make sure they remain good sports and are friendly to anyone they swim against.

“When the West Team swims against SPASH it is a very friendly but competitive atmosphere.  The West team really enjoys swimming against SPASH – the SPASH girls are very friendly.  As I coach I have a lot of respect for the SPASH swimmers.  I know how much time, work and effort it takes to be as competitive as the girls are,” Mary Schultz, head coach at Wausau West, said.

In the conference SPASH swimming holds the top spot in all the events except for one. Not only does SPASH have the number one swimmers in almost all of the events they also have three to five swimmers in the top ten times for each event.

Out of the 35 swimmers there are three seniors. All three of them are looking to finish the season with another conference win.

“We swam as fast as the year went,” Brooke Shefchik, a SPASH senior, said.

The season is winding to a close, but with all the talent on the team and the upcoming swimmers on the junior high team it looks like SPASH swimming is going to come back next year just as strong or even stronger than they were this year.