During the Northwest Crossroads Conference swim meet last Saturday, Munster’s Mary Beth Blocher rolled up wins in all four of her events — the 200 free relay (1:41.60), the 400 free relay (3:44.60), the 100 free (53.84), and 200 free (1:57.13).
“I look at it as a great way to prep for the postseason,” she said. “I have some high goals for this year, and the way I swam last weekend lets me know I’m close to being ready for the moment.”
Swimming in the moment is something Blocher has excelled at since she joined the Seahorses three years ago. She has won seven sectional titles, including three in the individual sprint events. This postseason she has her eye on the state meet.
“I am really focused on doing well at state this year,” Blocher said. “My individual goal is to medal (top eight) in both the 500 free and the 100 free.”
In her first two years at state competition, Blocher finished as high as ninth in the 50 free and 18th in the 100 free. She was also part of the medal teams last year in the 200 medley relay (1:44.11) and the 400 free relay (3:30.36).
“I have a goal to swim competitively in college,” Blocher said. “A lot of college coaches will be at the state meet to watch and time swimmers. Those who can’t be there get the times and videos. So there is a lot of focus on how you do at state.
“If I am going to have a good shot at swimming in college, then I need to have some of my best times at state,” she said. “I am putting a lot of my attention towards getting my times down right now.”
Blocher was introduced to competitive swimming by her cousins, Kevin and Maggie Behrens. The two former Seahorses both won state titles at Munster.
“They got me going in swimming,” Blocher said. “They still motivate me to do my best.”
Blocher primarily swam breast stroke before high school. Munster coach Matt Pavlovich saw the potential for a freestyle swimmer and switched her when she was a freshman.
“She had a natural stroke for the sprint events, especially the 50 and 100 free,” Pavlovich said. “She also swims the 200 free very well. Her style was well suited to the free strokes.”
Blocher had no problem with the switch.
“When you do the short freestyle events, you just swim in the moment,” she said. “There is not a lot of strategy. You do not have to hold back a certain amount of your energy, like a distance swimmer has to do. You hit the water and you go as hard as you can.
“That suits my personality better,” she added. “I like to make things as straightforward as possible. When I swim the sprints I just go.”
She admitted to feeling a little pressure to defend her sectional titles this season.
“I won the 100 free both years, and the 50 free last year,” she said. “So there’s pressure to repeat, because expectations have been set. It was less nervous when I was an underdog. But if I am going to be able to swim in college, I am going to have to demonstrate that I can swim under pressure.”
Blocher sees the sectional platform as a block for her ultimate goals.
“I am going to have to do very well in sectional in order to get my chance downstate,” she said. “No guesswork there. Sectionals are my building block. I have been working on getting my times where they need to be.”
Her extraordinary work ethic was recognized by her teammates, who elected her as a team captain. It is an honor usually reserved for seniors at Munster.
“I felt honored by their vote,” Blocher said. “It told me that they respect the way I go about my business. So I have made sure to be as good of a role model as possible this year. I try to lead by example and show my teammates how we should go about our business.”
Pavlovich thinks she has made a great captain.
“Mary Beth is what being a Seahorse is all about,” he said. “A very hard worker who lets her swimming speak for itself.”