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Midtown Monitor

Tulsa-Area Swimmers Repeat as State Champs

Sports Writer

SWIMMING CHAMPIONS: Emma Latta of Booker T. Washington, left, and Isabelle Packard of Metro Christian repeated as state swimming champions in the 2016-2017 year.

Two Tulsa-area swimmers were successful in their bid to repeat as state champions in the Class 5A state swim meet in Jenks.

It was a joyful moment for the swimmers.

Emma Latta of Booker T. Washington and Isabelle Packard of Metro Christian were victorious in the 50-yard freestyle and the 500-yard freestyle championships, respectively, for the second consecutive year.

Latta, a junior,, swam the 50 in a time of 25.25 seconds, edging Grove’s Payton Hill by .33 (25.58).

“It’s definitely super-exciting,” Latta says. “It kind of almost puts a stress on you all season because you don’t want to disappoint your team by dropping a place in your event. It definitely made me work harder so I could maintain my place.

“I think the key was just having the right mindset, doing all the things you would normally do for a race,” Latta says.

Packard, a sophomore, won the 500 by nearly 11 seconds (5:16.93) over Mackenzie Martin (5:27.64), another BTW swimmer and a teammate of Latta.

“It felt pretty good,” Packard says. “I was expecting to win, but you never know for sure. Whenever you actually get the win, it feels really good.”

Both swimmers made other contributions to their teams as well. Packard anchored her Lady Patriot teammates (Lauren Steudtner, Grace Heinecke and Kathryn Heinecke) in winning the 200-freestyle relay (1:43.03). Latta also anchored the Lady Hornets in the 200 (Martin, Lauren Meyers, Taylor Norman) where they took third (1:45.93) and the 400-freestyle relay (Martin, Meyers, Cassie Powell), in which they finished second.

However, they did come up shy in repeating in other events and hope to change that next year.

Latta also won the 100-yard freestyle in 2016, but was third (55.49) this year behind Savanna Barth of Stillwater (first, 53.87) and Sarah Fowler of Guymon (second, 54.95). Packard was first in the 200-yard freestyle that season but was runner-up (1:55.70) to Barth (1:54.90) in 2017.

Although they were happy with repeating in one race, doing it in another would have been nice.

“I wasn’t too sad,” Packard says. “I know the girl (Barth) who won the 200 free. We’re like pretty close friends, so I was happy for her. But it was also hard, because I wanted to win also. So, it was mixed feelings.”

For Latta, there was disappointment in losing the 100. But she also believes that goes back to the fact that “there is always someone out there who is possibly working harder than you are working or as hard as you,” she says.

Both girls plan to work through the offseason in club swimming.

Latta, who returns next season as a senior, took a break from it last year to focus on her high school team.

“Going back is definitely going to push me and being able to participate in the long course and just really staying focused,” Latta says. “I think that is what is going to help me maintain my title in the 50, and hopefully, work my way back to the top in the 100.”

Club swimming is not as stressful as high school, says Packard, soon to be a junior.

“Club is more fun and there is not a team aspect. It’s more individual,” Packard says. “You still want to place for your team, but you focus more on yourself. But, you get to swim more races. For example, instead of two, I can swim six at club meets.”

Because she entered the season with a pair of state champion medals, Packard says, she found her sophomore campaign to be more challenging mentally, yet she knows what to expect with two years left.

“Going into your freshman year, you don’t know how it’s going to go,” she says. “You don’t have as many expectations as you do the second year because then, you’re expecting to win. That was what was challenging for me. I was getting stressed and nervous about it. But I see the challenges for my senior year are the people I have to race and to overcome mental blocks.”

Both swimmers were happy with where their teams finished.

Booker T. Washington was the Class 5A runner-up in the team standings with 187 points. Metro was fourth with 170.5. Stillwater was crowned state champion with 306 points.

Updated 06-01-2017

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