Even though Rachel Metzger is only a freshman, the Wheeler swimmer doesn't appear overwhelmed about competing in today's Chesterton Sectional.
"I'm thinking more about the competition," Metzger said. "I don't think it's nerves — I think it's excitement."
Metzger set records in both the 200-yard individual medley (2:19.32) and 100 fly (1:02.89) at the Greater South Shore Conference meet a few weeks ago. Those marks aren't her lowest of the season. Entering today's sectional prelims, she's seeded fourth in the 200 IM (2:17.42) and sixth in the 100 fly (1:02.21).
Metzger began swimming when she was 4 years old, and she began competing with the Union Township Swim Club when she was 10. She made it to age-group state the next year, and advanced the next three seasons.
"I really feel like it prepared me for high school," Metzger said. "I've already competed at a high level, but I also knew the competition would grow in high school. I had to be more determined."
Wheeler coach Adam Klimczak also works with Metzger in age group, and he's not surprised about what the freshman has accomplished so far.
"She has some of the intangibles that you cannot teach," he said. "She has a drive to succeed and the mental capacity to perform. She's swam at meets at the (IUPUI) Natatorium (site of the IHSAA state finals). I'm interested to see how she responds to (the sectional field)."
The 200 IM field includes Chesterton junior Stephanie Krause, the top returning finisher from last year's race (third place). Metzger is more than eight seconds off the state cut time (2:09.29).
The 100 fly field is even more daunting. Freshman Vanessa Krause, Stephanie's younger sister, has the second-best recorded time in the state this season (55.85). The field also includes defending champion Kaitlyn Steffus of Valparaiso and LaPorte's Carly Jackson — who have previous state finals experience. Metzger is under two seconds off the cut time (58.47).
"I think I have a better chance to make it down in the fly," Metzger said. "I've competed against Vanessa since I was 10. (The field) knows how to swim a race, and that gives me something to keep up with.
"I know that I have to strive to do better. It is a little nerve-wracking. I cannot wait for it to start."