INDEPENDENCE — Central swimmer Grace Holstad missed qualifying for the 2017 state championship in the 100-meter butterfly by 0.12 seconds.
Heading in the Mid-Willamette Conference district meet Friday and Saturday, the sophomore is determined not to let that happen again.
Grace Holstad set five school records this season.
• 200-meter individual medley: 2:37.19
• 50 freestyle: 27.50
• 100 butterfly: 1:04.73
• 100 freestyle: 1:00.98
• 500 freestyle: 6:14.26
“I’m excited. Seeing how close I was last year, it makes me even more eager for districts this year,” Grace said.
She has a new training routine and new coaches, first-year head coach Jeannine Holstad and Jesse Genualdi.
Central, Dallas District swim meet
What: Mid-Willamette Conference Championships.
When: Friday and Saturday.
Where: Osborn Aquatic Center, Corvallis.
Admission: $6 for adults, $4 for students.
Combined with her competitive nature, the changes have brought success in the form of five new school records, including shattering the record she set last year in her favorite event, the 100 butterfly.
Genualdi said half way through the season, Grace bested her own record by three seconds, putting the new mark at one minute, 4.73 seconds. She also set new records in the 50 freestyle, 100 freestyle, 500 freestyle and 200 individual medley.
All that is left to accomplish the feat that she was oh-so-close to achieving last year.
Genualdi believes Grace has a good shot. She has one of the top three times in the 100 butterfly in the conference going into this weekend’s meet. The top finisher in each conference gets an automatic berth, while the rest of the field is determined by who turns in the next fastest times at their respective conference championships.
Genualdi has restructured Grace’s training to have her turning in her best performances now. Genualdi said at the beginning of the season, the swimmers were shocked at the length and intensity of their workouts.
“That was kind of the goal, to work them hard in the beginning, and in the middle of the season, start giving them a little more rest so they could start recuperating and perform at max performance at districts,” said Genualdi, who still swims competitively in addition to coaching.
Grace put her trust in him.
“I trust what he has to say, his tips, his workouts because he’s gone through it before and knows what he is talking about,” she said. “He changed my stroke this year, my butterfly, and I was a little bit iffy about it at first. I was, like, I don’t know if this is going to help me. It takes a lot of energy. This is hard, but the next meet, I PR’d and I broke the record again.”
She credits Genualdi for her success this year.
“He’s pushed me really hard and he does really great workouts for us that are super hard, but you feel super great when you are done with practice because you know that you’ve worked super hard and done a lot,” Grace said. “You know that you are going to see results.”
Genualdi said her accomplishments are rooted in her willingness to try new techniques and her love of being in the water.
“I think she’s a hard worker and talented, persistent. I think it’s important that she just loves her sport,” he said. “I feel like that’s important to have. It kind of drives you forward. It’s been enjoyable for me to see her success this year.”
Jeannine Holstad said Grace isn’t the only individual swimmer she wants to see qualify for the state meet. Senior Daniel Glade holds top-five times in the 50 freestyle and 100 style. He’s never qualified for state as an individual, though he did compete on a relay team in his freshman year.
Grace said her teammate has been a source of inspiration for her this season.
“I hope that Daniel makes it to state because he works super hard in practice,” Grace said. “He’s always, like, pushing me harder and motivating me to swim harder at meets.”
Genualdi said two other swimmers, David Glade and Isaiah Compton, could have a shot if they swim their best this weekend.
Jeannine Holstad said many on the team haven’t been competitive swimmers before.
“That allows for a ton of improvement, obviously,” she said. “We’ve had a lot of times that have gone down. Some people are taking five, six, seven seconds off their time from the previous meet. That’s been fun to see.”
She wants the entire team to put in its best for what will be the last meet of the year for many — and to have fun together.
“It’s a long meet. The kids will be able to hang out more together as a team in the bleachers,” she said. “I think that will be really fun for them.”