Swimmer advances to state meet
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UPDATE: Patel finished 23rd.
With a time of 1:11.96 for her 100-yard breaststroke, junior Nirja Patel placed fifth at regional competition and advanced to state finals this Thursday.
Patel has competed in state finals each year she has been at Hillsborough.
“I’m very happy and proud that I’m close to reaching my goal, to make it all four years,” she said. Patel said that she wished her relay team could have gone to states as well, and looks forward to next year.
She credits her personal success to hard work. She is a club swimmer for Swim Tampa Aquatics at the Jewish Community Center in Citrus Park. “We have really hardcore practices,” she said. “We swim over 6,000 yards every day!”
Every swimmer knows that the key to speed is technique, and Patel is no exception.
“My coach will give me breaststroke sets to improve my endurance,” she said, “but we also work a lot on techniques that make you work harder and move faster through the water.”
Patel described the atmosphere at the state meet, which take place at the YMCA Aquatic Center in Orlando.
“It’s a very exciting but competitive environment,” she said. “It looks like the Olympics!”
Patel talked about her pre-race rituals, which include vigorous warm- ups to get her heart rate up, and visualizing her race behind the blocks.
On pre-race nerves, Patel said that’s just the way she is: “The adrenaline just comes out. It’s good before a race, though, because you get that extra burst of energy!”
Hillsborough girls swim coach Nicole Holman will be at the state meet with Patel on Thursday.
“I’m very excited we have a girl swimmer going to states, and I’m very proud of all the swimmers this year,” said Holman. “Nirja is very talented and speeds up consistently each meet.”
Hillsborough will be rooting for Patel when she swims Thursday. “I’m proud to represent Hillsborough, and I’m going to do my best for [everyone]!” she said.
Sports Editor Samantha Votzke has been on the Red and Black staff since her sophomore year. She is now in her junior year of the IB program.