Record-breaking Loy Norrix swim relay team finally makes it to states


Credit: Paul Mahar

Loy Norrix Swim and Dive team gets ready to go to States. In the photo from left to right there is Samantha Vande Pol (diver), Norah DeYoung, Annika Schnell, Grace Mahar, and Ellie Haase.

Annie Mansfield

After over five weeks of time off, the Loy Norrix swim relay team, consisting of senior Ellie Haase, sophomore Norah DeYoung, junior Annika Schnell and freshman Grace Mahar, was finally able to go to their state meet. The reason for this extended break was because of a surge in the number of COVID cases leading to the shutdown of all high school sports. 

“The biggest disappointment was states,” Schnell explained. “We were ready to swim at the time that states were supposed to take place. When I found out that states was postponed, I was devastated.”

This meet, originally scheduled for Nov. 21, took place almost two months later on Saturday, Jan. 16. Usually states are held at a university but due to the pandemic, it was held at Hudsonville High School. 

Swimmers qualify for states only if they can make the state cut time for their specific event. After going undefeated this season, that time was harder to make because they moved up from division 2 to division 1. The team had to make a time of 1:52.89 minutes, and they managed to pull it off with a (still waiting for this info). 

“I felt nervous being there because it was the first time that our team had gone to a division 1 state meet,” Mahar stated.

This relay team competed in the 200 medley relay which consists of swimming a 50 meter of all four different swimming styles in this order: backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly and freestyle. Haase swam backstroke, Mahar with breaststroke, Schnell with butterfly and DeYoung with freestyle. They broke the LN record of 1:53.66 minutes a number of different times, while quickly losing count of how many times they broke their own records. Also it is to be noted that they broke the Harper Creek pool record.

This record-breaking relay team consists of strong athletes that have some of their own accomplishments. For instance, this season Schnell made it to states in the 100 meter fly race, finishing in the top 16, and also Mahar broke the 1992, 100 yard breaststroke school record twice. 

From having such a strong season to having this long period of time off, the LN swimmers now had to switch their focus on how to prepare mentally for the upcoming competition. 

“We asked our athletes to not stress about things they can’t control,” stated Paul Mahar, the head swim coach for the girls’ team. “We will do our best and you will not be judged by your outcome. We asked our athletes to enjoy the journey and learn something positive during their time at the state meet.” 

Even though the swimmers were trying to be positive during this event, they explained how they were feeling a little down about the whole situation. 

“Leading up to states, we didn’t even know if states were even going to happen,” Haase explained. “It was more sad than nerve-racking because it was my last race.” Haase’s teammates felt similarly. 

Deyoung also explained, “The whole time, it didn’t feel like I was at a state championship meet. I was nervous but also excited to finally be done with the season because it’s been a long dragged-on season.” 

Once at states, the relay team did not do as well as they expected. They went 1:53 minutes with some of the girls having swam higher times than what they had previously gone. With the time being higher than what they would have wanted, they still were able to receive 19th place in a new, more competitive division. 

Even throughout this crazy season and how they had to take a break from their swimming, Coach Mahar said, “Our 200 medley relay swam the fastest 200 MR [medley relay] in school history.”