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Thesier goes to great lengths to be excellent swimmer

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Brittney Thesier is the only one who cheers when her team is required to swim long-distance yardage during workouts. Her teammates usually groan.

The Watertown High School senior has dedicated herself to swimming year-round, helping her to become one of the top distance competitors in the Frontier League.

She swims the 200- and 500-yard freestyle races, with the 500 her favorite event.

“Most people think that swimming distance is crazy and it’s really hard,” Thesier said. “But to distance people, sprinting is really hard.”

Competitors swim 20 pool lengths to complete 500 yards.

“I find it relaxing to do a lot of freestyle, to do it at your own pace,” Thesier said. “Many people think the 500 is a chance to go slow, but when you do it so many times it becomes a long sprint.”

Thesier says she’s able to pace herself and hold a steady time for each lap.

“If she could swim the 500 every meet, she would,” Watertown swimming coach Lori Peters said. “But I like to mix it up because I don’t want her to get bored.”

Thesier has suffered (most of her life) from feet problems, most often caused by running. Over the last four years, she has fractured bones in one of her feet three different times. When she entered junior-high school she turned to swimming as one of her only athletic options.

Thesier can’t do the dry-land workouts the rest of the team does, and she can’t wear flippers on her feet so has to do those drills without them. Swimmers use flippers as part of their workouts to help develop their kicking.

“It’s a blessing there’s a sport out there for her, and she does very well at it,” Peters said.

Thesier clocked career-best times in both the 200 and 500 freestyles during a league meet at Carthage on Sept. 13. She leads the league with a time of 2 minutes, 8.47 seconds in the 200 free. In the 500, her time of 5:43.27 ranks second in the league, behind teammate and two-time state competitor Samantha Favret, who swam the 500 freestyle less than 10 seconds faster than Thesier this season.

“I’m proud of the fact that I have dropped so much time over the years,” Thesier said. “When I was a freshman I couldn’t make sectionals in anything, and then I worked really hard and I swam all year.”

Thesier has competed with the local YMCA Blue Sharks and USA swimming teams the last two seasons, which strengthened her endurance.

Last season, Thesier qualified for sectionals in every individual event. She competed in the 200 and 500 freestyles and both freestyle relays, making it to the finals in all four events. She is working to drop her 500 freestyle time to 5:35 by the end of the season, which is a realistic goal, according to Peters. In the 200 free, Peters would like to see Thesier lower her time to 2:05.

Thesier has helped lead her team to a 7-1 overall, 7-0 league record so far this season. With 10 seniors on the roster, the Cyclones are blessed with strong leadership.

“We are definitely a veteran team,” Peters said. “So we come with a lot of talent, a lot of experience.”

Out of 27 on the roster, 17 have qualified for sectional competition. For Peters, that’s the most ever in her 19 years of coaching. Her goal is to qualify a total of 20 by the end of the season.

One of Thesier’s most memorable moments in swimming occurred last year when she and teammates Julia Marilley, Bree Jefferds and Favret experienced a series of mishaps at the start of a 400 free relay.

“We get to the block and Julia breaks her goggles, Bree goes to put on her cap and it rips and Sam showed up at the block at the last minute,” Thesier said. “But we still won the relay. It was funny.”

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