Madison-Plains freshman Emma Sampson probably had a more difficult path to the Division II state swimming and diving championships than most of the other competitors who competed in the event Feb. 19-22 at the C.T. Branin Natatorium in Canton.
Sampson doesn’t have a whole collection of teammates to bond with, doesn’t practice in a pool within the county in which she lives and usually finds herself waking early and returning late from home in order to accommodate a taxing schedule.
But the experience and satisfaction she got from swimming against the very best swimmers in Ohio made all of her sacrifices well worth it.
“I thought it was a great experience to have gone as a freshman,” Sampson said. “I think I swam OK, but going through the experience will definitely help me in the future.”
Sampson qualified for the D-II state meet in both the 200-yard Individual Medley and the 100-Backstroke. She placed 12th in the Individual Medley (IM) (2:11.50) and had the 18th fastest time in the prelims of the 100-Back (59.63). Neither time was as fast as she had hoped, but she plans on using it as motivation going forward.
“I didn’t swim my times,” she said. “But my goal is to get back there the next three years and make it to the finals. I finished 12th (in the 200IM) but I had to race in the consolation final.”
The Golden Eagles standout trains at the Springfield YMCA, which is a 50-60 minute drive from her home in Mt. Sterling. A couple days a week that drive starts before 5 a.m., on others it doesn’t end til 9 p.m., either way that means her days are extremely long.
Sampson hopes the path she’s blazing as a standout swimmer will eventually lead to her doing it at college. But knows she must continue to improve in a lot of different areas.
“I need to improve my mental state of mind,” she said. “I’ve really worked hard on the mental side of things. Someone told me that swimming is 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical. In order to do this in college I don’t need to be the very best of the best, but I need to be very good and show determination and heart.”
Sampson said she appreciates the community support she’s gotten, including the Madison-Plains High School athletic boosters paying for her hotel stay in Canton.
“It was a really cool experience,” she said of going to the state meet. “I’m looking forward to getting back there again.”
Chris Miles can be reached at (740) 852-1616, ext. 18 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.