By AUSTIN COLBERT
As the days ticked by, waiting became more agonizing. It wasn't so much a worry of whether or not the Hays High School girls' swim season was over -- they could accept either outcome -- but not knowing was torment they didn't want.
"The first day waiting I was pretty calm because I knew I still had time to wait," Hays High freshman swimmer Ana Goodlett said. "But 24 hours before we found out, I just could not stop talking about it. I was like, 'Are we going? Are we not going? Are we going? Are we not going? Do we have practice or do we not have practice?' I was very paranoid."
Then the answer finally came earlier this week: the Indians' 400-yard freestyle relay team was going to state.
At the conclusion of Hays High's final swim meet -- the WAC Invite on May 15 in Hays -- the Indians did not have any individual or relay team qualified for the Class 5-1A state meet. However, Goodlett had a consideration time in the backstroke and the 400 free relay team was also on the bubble.
In order to qualify for state, certain standards have to be met. As many lanes as needed are used for these individuals or teams, and then the remaining openings are filled by those with a consideration time. The number of entries that makes it based off a consideration time depends on the number that made the original qualifying time.
While Goodlett missed the cut on the backstroke, she will head to her first state meet as part of the 400 free relay team. The state meet begins today in Topeka at the Capitol Federal Natatorium with the preliminaries, the finals being held Saturday.
"I think it will be really great. It will show her that the hard work does pay off and that it can be enjoyable. You shouldn't really stress out too much about a sport you love," senior swimmer Mackenzie Lewis said of Goodlett. "It's been kind of emotional, because I didn't know at WAC if we were going to go or not. I was just trying to savor every minute of it and to find out we were going was really great."
The 400 free relay team hit its state consideration time at the Great Bend Invitational on April 3. Goodlett, Lewis, junior Emily McPherson and junior Lexie Schaben swam the event in 4 minutes, 41.59 seconds, a time they haven't beaten since.
Because of the availability of certain swimmers due to outside circumstances, exactly who has swam on what relay team has changed from meet to meet all season.
For Friday and Saturday's state meet in Topeka, the Indians will send Goodlett, Lewis, McPherson and junior Amanda Koenigsman to compete in the 400 freestyle relay, the final event of the meet.
This will be the first time these four swimmers have swam a relay together this season, although each has swam numerous relays at some point throughout the year.
"We've had such weird schedules with people being gone for Chamber Singers and other activities, that coaches were messing around with who could be on what relay, just because it's such a huge variety," Goodlett said.
"Considering there is only one senior, I will be able to have this experience with people that will be on the swim team next year. It's really good to get the experience since we are able to go. It's good to realize what happens there and how interesting it is."
The preliminaries took place today at 10 a.m., while the finals will begin Saturday at 10:30 a.m. in Topeka.