Two swimmers break new ground for the Republic High School swim and dive program when they head to state competition this weekend. Senior Mady McCrea and sophomore Karissa Metzger are the first swimmers from Republic to qualify for state. (Two divers on the boys team, Dylan and Justice Murray, qualified for state last fall.) It’s the first season for swimming and diving at Republic.
McCrea and Metzger are competing in the same two events: the 100-yard breaststroke and the 200-yard individual medley. According to coach Steve Boyce, of the events in which Metzger and McCrea qualified, those two races are the ones where they have the best opportunity to qualify for finals.
“It is really exciting to have individual qualifiers in a new program,” Boyce said. “Hopefully they swim well and score some team points. That would be super cool to have a first-year program score points at state.”
McCrea has participated in club swimming for years, so she jumped at the chance to join a school team as a senior. As she prepares for state competition, her focus is on finishing her swim career strong.
“I’m just excited to finish out my senior year. This will be my last time ever racing because I’m not to swim in college, so I’m just excited to get out there and leave it all out in the water and just have fun,” she said.
Boyce said he expected big things from McCrea as the season began, and has been impressed by sophomore Metzger’s development throughout the season.
“Mady came to us with quite a strong background in club swimming. We knew she would be successful. We are excited for her opportunity to swim at state as a senior and represent her school,” he said. “Karissa has really blossomed as a trainer and racer this season. Her future is bright.”
Metzger said when the season began, the prospect of hitting a state-qualifying time was daunting, but the rigorous training, especially over Christmas break, convinced her she could do it.
“After Christmas break, I knew that I could definitely make state because of how hard had been training us,” she said.
Metzger especially remembers one day when the team swam 60 100-yard repetitions on a descending interval, so that each repetition had to be faster than the previous one.
“That was really hard mentally and physically, because … in the it was so hot we had to open the doors. So you’re exhausted, then you have 30 more left and they keep getting faster.”
But the work paid off with an opportunity to compete against the state’s best swimmers, and Metzger said the accomplishment means a lot to her and her family.
“I know it makes my family proud of me because I’ve put a lot of effort into it, and I’m proud of myself. In the back of my mind, I knew I could at least in one race.”
McCrea said she was “hopeful” of qualifying for state when the season began.
“I thought it was more likely than not, just because most of my training partners from club swim who’ve been on high school all four years have made it. I swim with them every day, so I was hoping to make it,” she said.
And McCrea said she hopes her time on the team, even for just one year, carries over for the swim and dive program in the future. The ability to practice with teams from other schools is part of the program’s appeal to McCrea.
“I just want girls to come and realize how fun it is,” McCrea said. “I think the best part … is getting to meet girls and spend every day with girls from Glendale and Ozark, not just Republic. So you meet a lot of new people, and when you’re at a swim meet, it’s so loud and everyone’s cheering each other on and really encouraging each other no matter what team you’re from. So it’s a really positive environment and that makes it fun.”
Although McCrea and Metzger will be swimming in the same two events, McCrea said she won’t be thinking about competing against her teammate.
“I’m focused on going out there and having fun,” she said. “I’m focused on what I’m doing, not really what people around me are doing.
Metzger agrees that they’ll be rooting for one another, but said she has used competition with McCrea to push herself to get better this season.
“I always try to go … in the next lane and push myself to try to keep up with her, because in one race we’re both in, she’s like 30 seconds faster than me. Trying to keep up that tempo is pretty hard. It’s still competition, but we’re definitely going to be cheering each other on.”
The state meet begins Thursday in St. Peters.