CEDAR RAPIDS — Qualifying for state in any sport is hard. It’s even harder without a coach.
This was what the road to the girls’ state swimming meet looked like for Xavier freshman Anne Baumann and junior Maddie Gannon.
Both Saints swam for Kennedy High School as a part of the Cedar Rapids co-op. Their head coach, Ivan Sanchez, left with three weeks left in the season to become assistant coach at Southern Illinois. Assistants Igor Sanchez (Ivan’s brother) and Jody Petersen took over, but Ivan’s departure was felt.
Despite these circumstances, Gannon qualified for state in four different events, making this her most successful season.
“It was a little hard to adapt to the change, but our assistant coaches made the transition easier,” Gannon said. “I think the team rallied through and made it work.”
At state, Gannon raced in the 100-yard breaststroke, 200 freestyle, 200 freestyle relay and 400 freestyle relay. In the 400 freestyle relay, she had a lifetime best with a split of 54.20.
Baumann competed in the breaststroke leg of the medley relay. She did well, too, dropping time from the week before.
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“The chemistry between everyone on the team was very good this year, most everyone got along. That made practices a lot of fun,” Baumann said. “Everyone was constantly cheering each other up and having fun.”
The girls understood working as a team gave them better results and made the experience more fun.
“I think this season was my favorite because of all the successes and the great team chemistry,” Gannon said. “I think that really helps when it comes to competing.”
The Cougars have traditions before state to help ease the nerves and pressure that comes with competing. Swimmers dyed their hair, gave gifts and goody bags, ate dinner and watched a movie together.
“Knowing that the team is there for you makes all the difference,” Gannon said. “I got to watch myself and others get times like never before.”
Since both swimmers return next season, they are looking forward to more success and working with other returning members.