Long distance a specialty for MHS’ Dritz

By Joel Jellison

Sometimes, MHS girls’ swimming coach Jerry Carpenter said it’s tough to get Pilar Dritz to leave the pool.

“She’ll get all fidgety if she has to get out,” he said laughing.

The MHS sophomore spends a lot of time in the pool for the Indians, racing the longest individual event in the 500-yard free as her specialty. She will compete in that event in this weekend’s Class 6A state swimming meet at the Capitol Federal Natatorium in Topeka, as well as the 200 free, and as a member of the 200 free and 400 free relays.

Carpenter said the 500 free, which Dritz is seeded in sixth heading into the meet on Friday at 5:22.40, might be most comparable to the 1,600-meter run in track.

“The 500 in swimming is a lot like the mile in track, that’s a pretty good comparison,” he said. “It’s not an all out sprint, you have to be a little practical about it. It’s tough, but as far as toughness goes, Pilar is one of the toughest kids I’ve ever coached. She works very hard and she is very focused, extremely coachable.”

But to Dritz, the 500 isn’t like the mile at all, not her mind at least. When participating in club swimming events with the Manhattan Marlins, she often swims the mile event in the pool.

“It’s definitely longer and more difficult, but I swim the mile in club, so it’s way different than that,” she said. “It’s about a third as long, but for new people the 500 is really tough. I like the long distance because it gives me time and I just think like ‘I can do it,’ and it’s a huge accomplishment.”

Carpenter said Dritz isn’t just limited to distance, calling her a student of the sport. Not only does she swim well in distance, but he said she swims a good individual medley, a good breaststroke, a good backstroke and good butterfly. To sum up her skills, he just said she is solid.

“The kids just call her a beast, they’re just like ‘wow, that’s incredible,’ when they see what she does,” he said.

Dritz said she views swimming in other events as a challenge.

“Each race is different and you get a different feeling after each race,” she said. “The other events aren’t what I love to do, but they are a nice break. My coaches really challenge me to do everything because you never know what you could be good at if you don’t do it.”

Dritz said she is excited to see the year-to-year progress of her teammates in the events, including seeing everyone at least make it to the finals. She said she thinks a couple of her teammates can pick up medals, and of course she hopes to get one herself.

Carpenter said the excitement she holds for her teammates’ chances this weekend is just Dritz’s personality.

“She is a very strong student, and she is just genuinely a nice person,” he said. “She cares about her teammates and she gets more excited about when her teammates do well than when she does well. It’s just really fun to watch that.”

Dritz said most of all, she is excited for everyone to have a chance to compete against the highest competition in the state.

“State is really fun because it’s super competitive and everyone wants to be there, it shows me higher levels of competition and it’s awesome.”

Dritz is seeded eighth in the 200 free with a time of 2:01.65, while she will likely join Mariah Scipio, Makayla Walters and Hannah Funk in the 200 free relay. That relay is seeded 11th with a time of 1:46.35, just two seconds from the time of the fourth seed.

Scipio, Funk, Alana Bucholtz and Dritz will also join in the 400 free relay where they are seeded ninth with a time of 3:52.03. Bucholtz, Lucienne Lange, Walters and Meagan Williams are seeded 12th in the 200 medley relay with a time of 2:01.91.

Katy Van Nevel and Samantha Gray will compete in diving, and Carpenter said he likes their chances of making some noise.

“Katy is a medalist from last year and with Sam Gray picking up a state cut, she has just learned a lot in a short amount of time,” he said. “Nothing would surprise me with the divers.”

Bucholtz will compete in the 100 back, seeded 17th with a time of 1:05.09. The rest of the Indians’ qualifiers picked up consideration times. Scipio and Bucholtz will race in the 50 free as the 15th and 16th seeds, and Scipio will also make a run in the 100 free.

“I really feel like we’re going to swim well,” Carpenter said. “The kids have trained and prepared really well, and looking at the psych sheet I think we’ve got a legitimate shot of virtually everything having a chance of swimming again on Saturday.

“There is potential on a couple of the relays that we could be top eight and Pilar is sitting pretty good with a chance at top eight in her events.”

Carpenter said he hopes to at least have everyone competing again on Saturday.

“First, the goal is to get to state and second, is when you get there, let’s try to get to the second day,” he said. “It’s just icing on the cake so to speak.”

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