Splinter hoping to reach medal round at state

Published 9:07 pm Wednesday, November 18, 2009

It’s time to get recognized.

After four years of swimming at the state meet in relative obscurity, Austin junior Averi Splinter is hoping to get noticed this time.

She has the second fastest qualifying time in the 100-yard butterfly and she has a good chance to reach the medal round (top eight) for the first time in her career.

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“I would say it’s my best shot,” Splinter said. “I want the other girls to see my time and be a little bit scared. That’s what you want.”

The Class ‘A’ state preliminaries will take place Friday at noon at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center in Minneapolis and the finals will be held Saturday at noon.

Splinter swam a career best time of 58.71 seconds in the Section 1A meet last Friday. In past years of going to state, she had never swum the butterfly below a minute.

“She’s worked very hard and she’s in great shape,” Austin head coach Lynn Gulbrandson said. “She’s going in with a very solid time and we feel we held back a little bit (at sections). We know she has something left for the state tournament and we’re looking very forward to it.”

The only swimmer with a faster qualifying time than Splinter in the 24-swimmer field is Audrey Krum of Hutchinson (58.42). But that doesn’t mean Splinter will take it easy in the preliminaries.

“You can’t (save it on the first day),” Gulbrandson said. “A lot of the state meet is decided on prelims. We’re going to put everything we’ve got out there.”

Splinter finished 19th in the 100-yard butterfly last year and she was 16th two years ago, but she’s learned some lessons on how to handle her nerves at state.

“After four years of being in the state meet I feel like I kind of have a handle on it,” she said. “I’ve learned you really have to calm yourself down. You want to be excited and not be nervous. There’s a fine line between those two and if you’re nervous, you don’t perform as well as you do when you’re hyped up with adrenaline and excited.”

Splinter started swimming competitively in the fifth grade after competing in tae kwon do; now she swims nine or 10 months out of the year.

“I suppose I was just a natural (when I started),” she said. “My family is really health orientated so we’re kind of active all the time anyway.”

Splinter is also motivated by the spirit of competition.

“I’m competitive and I don’t like to lose,” she said.


The Packers are sending six athletes to the Class ‘A’ swimming state meet, which begins Friday at noon at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center.

The 200-yard medley relay team of Brooke Johnson, Kellie Bednar, Averi Splinter and Helen Heimark has the seventh fastest qualifying time (1:53.36) coming into the state meet out of 28 qualifying teams.

Austin head coach Lynn Gulbrandson said he thinks the team has a good chance to reach the top eight and swim in Saturday’s medal round.

“We’re optimistic and we know we have something left there,” Gulbrandson said. It’s a one-time thing and everyone’s got to hit right on that same day. The quality is so good that one bad turn or one bad exchange is enough to put you in the consolations.”

Breck School’s 200-medley team has the fastest qualifying time at 1:50.71.

The 200-yard freestyle relay team of Splinter, Bednar, Lauren Edwards, and Heimark has the 16th fastest time (1:43.49) out of 22 qualifying teams at state.

Sartell Stephens has the fastest 200-freestyle relay qualifying time at 1:37.45 and is the only team in the field below 1:40.

Heimark, a freshman will compete individually in the 200-yard freestyle and the 500-yard freestyle. In the 200-yard freestyle, she has the 16th fastest qualifying time (2:00.79) out of 26 swimmers and in the 500-yard freestyle, she has the 23rd fastest qualifying time (5:32.30) out of 27 qualifiers.

Marisa Wood of Sartell St. Stephens has the fastest qualifying time in the 200-freestyle (1:55.62) and Wood also leads the 500-freestyle field with a time of 5:09.05.

All swimmers who reach the top eight in Friday’s preliminary races will swim Saturday in the medal round. All swimmers who reach the top 16 will swim on Saturday, but they can’t medal.