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North swimmers take different routes to Class 6A swim meet – Presented by PC Repair

By Joanna Chadwick

The routes that North junior Marie Loest and sophomore teammate Cora Daggett took to get to the Class 6A state swim meet are quite different.

Loest is a year-round swimmer who qualified in four individual events — the 200-yard individual medley, 200 freestyle, 100 breaststroke and 100 free. She will compete in the 200 IM, 100 breast, 200 medley relay and 400 free relay.

Daggett splits her year between volleyball and swimming. She qualified in the 100 free but will compete in the 50 free and 100 butterfly.

“I’m so happy,” Loest said. “Last year I was struggling to get my state cuts…. Getting all four is really exciting, and I’m really proud of myself. All my hard work has paid off for something so important.”

***Marie Loest***

Loest switched to the Wichita Swim Club in August and it was a challenging transition.

“The yardage was just outrageously different,” Loest said. “It was so much more. The workouts are 10 times harder. But it’s obviously doing something if I’m getting four qualifying times.”

Loest stopped club training during North’s season, which meant less yardage.

“It’s just working on pace and straight sprints,” she said. “I went from swimming 3-4 miles to swimming 1, 1 1/2 hours…. I’m glad I stayed with the straight sprint workouts. If I went back, I probably would be so exhausted that I wouldn’t have performed as well during the season.”

Loest is swimming times around where she was as a sophomore. In the 100 breaststroke, it can be challenging.

“I feel like I’m beating my head against the wall by swimming the exact same time. I’ve been working on my technique, and it feels like it’s changing for the good,” she said.

Loest, who started swimming at age 6, started to see a change in her times when she started lifting weights. Her times have improved and she attended pro-ams the past two years.

As a freshman, she got to state on consideration times in the 200 IM and the 100 breast. As a sophomore, she qualified in both events and finished in the B finals. This year, she qualified in four.

“I see how much I’ve grown as an athlete and how much better I’ve gotten,” she said.

The goal is simple at state swim — get on the podium.

“I have to get on the podium,” she said. “But as long as I have a better time, I’m OK.”

***Cora Daggett***

Daggett started swimming when she was around 6 years old at Indian Hills. Her mom and her grandma had always gone there to swim.

“It was fun at first, just being with my friends,” she said. “… In high school I realized how serious it was and how big the competition was. When I went to state as a freshman, I realized how much I could do.”

Daggett, who is biracial, often finds she’s the only person of color in the pool during high school meets.

“It’s not a big thing, but it’s empowering to be one of the few that swim and that’s really good and is a person of color,” she said. “I wish more people of color would swim.”

She doesn’t feel isolated, though.

“One thing we all have in common is we all like to swim,” Daggett said. “Race doesn’t come to mind when I think about swimming. I think about friends that I’ve been swimming with.”

She also loves big competition.

“I like to push myself,” she said. “And I like the people I swim with. I just love them. They help me grow and become faster. The sport is really hard sometimes, and when I don’t want to go to practice, I think about my friends.”

But while Daggett sees growth swimming from March through the summer, volleyball is where she spends the rest of her time.

At 6-foot-2, she played middle hitter for the past year and recently moved to outside.

She doesn’t lift weights, but the two sports work well together.

And it doesn’t hurt to be tall.

“When you race a girl who’s a foot shorter, you have an arm length advantage, a leg length advantage,” Daggett said. “If you’re swimming at the same speed, I’d have the advantage with the bigger reach.”

The goal for this year is to do better than last year when Daggett made it to the B final in the 50 free.

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