Over at the Lawrence Indoor Aquatic center, Free State High’s girls swimming and diving team has a fairly simple motto.
“It’s all about swimming fast and having fun,” coach Annette McDonald says.
No two swimmers embody that mantra more than senior co-captains Kara Mishler and Reilly Moore.
“We always just joke around and keep everything light,” fellow senior co-captain Katy Thellman said.
Mishler and Moore might look like they’re goofing around at times, but when they’re on the block ready ready to dive into the pool — as they will at the state championships at Hummer Sports Complex in Topeka — that’s far from the case.
“Swimming is hard no matter what you do,” Moore started. “It’s one of those sports where you can’t really slack off … ”
“It’s also one of those sports where you make it as hard as you want to,” Mishler said, finishing Moore’s thought mid-stream. “You can slack off, but you won’t do well.”
State begins at 2 p.m. today at Hummer for the diving preliminaries and semifinals, in which Free State’s Annie Soderberg is the lone city entrant.
Swimming prelims begin at 10:30 a.m. Friday at Hummer, where along with Mishler and Moore, Kate McCurdy (200 free, 500 free), Morgan Miller (200 free, 500 free) are the other Firebirds competing in individual events.
Hana Arch, Caroline King, Rosemary Black, Katie Kimbrough and Bailey Watson will combine with the others to round out the Firebirds’ three relay teams (200 free, 200 medley, 400 free).
Mishler and Moore, four-year varsity swimmers, have been big reasons why FSHS has finished in the top three at state over the past three years and no doubt will be have a say in determining how successful the Firebirds are this weekend.
But Moore, the team’s 100 breaststroker, 50 yard freestyle whiz and integral member of two relay teams, almost never made it to the pool.
A first-team All-Sunflower League selection this season, Moore is a natural in the water, though she says she hated it until she was about 8, when she was finally dragged to the pool by her older brothers.
“My parents joke that even when I was baptized, I was kicking and screaming,” Moore said.
That’s not so much the case for Mishler, a second-team all-league pick this year and a standout at the 100 butterfly, 200 IM and also on two of FSHS’s relay teams.
“My parents always say I could swim before I could walk,” Mishler says.
Moore is trying to better her own school-record time in the 100 breaststroke (1:06.29), which she swam in 2009 on the state championship team despite having an injured shoulder.
Misher, on the other hand, is looking to shake off a rough performance at state in 2009, where she was on pace for a blinding time in the 100 butterfly before swallowing a mouthful of water and not finishing.