The Ames girls’ swimming and diving team is good, there’s no denying that. There’s depth, there’s balance, and there’s plenty of talent.
But here’s the secret not everybody knows about — some of the that talent walks our Gilbert High School halls every day.
Ames will take a large contingent of swimmers to the state meet in Marshalltown on Friday and Saturday, including six Gilbert girls — seniors Reese Winer and Elizabeth Powers; sophomores Alex Powers, Lily Van Der Linden, and Jaylyn Light; and freshman Madie Hermsen, who will serve as an alternate.
Gilbert has sent student-athletes to Ames to compete on the swimming and diving team for a number of years, and it’s been a friendly and productive partnership. This fall, nearly half of the Little Cyclones’ state qualifiers are Gilbert students.
“I’m super excited that we get to bring so many representatives from Gilbert,” Elizabeth Powers, who qualified for state in four events, said. “The team wouldn’t be the way it is without the team dynamic we have, Ames and Gilbert swimmers together, and we’re all really good friends.”
“This is the year we’ve had the most Gilbert girls on the state team, which is impressive,” Winer, a senior who signed to swim collegiately at Lindenwood University in Saint Charles, Missouri, on Wednesday, said. “We make up almost half of it and that’s just cool to see. Just because you go to different schools doesn’t mean you can’t equally represent.”
The five Gilbert qualifiers will swim in 10 events inside the Marshalltown YMCA/YWCA — seven individual events and three relays. Prelims will get underway Friday morning at 11 a.m. The state finals are set for noon on Saturday.
Winer will go it alone in two events — the 100-yard breaststroke where she’s seeded third and the 200 individual medley where she’s seeded eighth. She’s also on the Little Cyclones’ third-seeded 200 freestyle relay and fourth-seeded 200 medley relay.
It’s the second consecutive year Winer has qualified in four events. She bagged eighth-, ninth-, and 11th-place finishes in individual events in 2022, and played a role on Ames’ fifth-place 200 medley relay.
“I’m personally excited because I’m in the same events I’ve been in all year and there’s a senior drive to do better,” Winer said. “We are ranked higher than we were last year.”
Elizabeth Powers will also swim the 200 medley relay, as well as the 100 butterfly, 100 backstroke, and 400 freestyle relay. She’s seeded ninth in both individual events. She was a three-time qualifier in 2022, highlighted by a seventh-place result as part of Ames’ 400 freestyle relay.
Alex Powers will swim three times, once alongside Winer in the 200 freestyle relay and once against her in the 100 breaststroke where she’s seeded seventh. She’ll also compete in the 50 freestyle.
Van Der Linden will dive into the pool for a pair of long-distance swims — the 200 and 500 freestyle. She’s got the 12th-fastest qualifying time in the 500 freestyle.
Light makes her return to state in the 100 backstroke as the No. 19 seed. She was 17th in the same event a year ago.
Elizabeth Powers says the girls are prepared to leave every ounce of energy they have in the water. If that results in state medals, fantastic. And if not, as long as there are no regrets, she can live with the outcomes.
“I wouldn’t say there’s an expectation to do well, but there is an expectation for personal improvement,” she said. “That’s what we’re really excited for.”
Good luck to all of our swimmers this weekend, and good luck to the entire Ames squad, which will look to improve upon its fourth-place finish in 2022.