By MIKE MOGUIN
GTR Sports Writer
Isabelle Packard won another pair of state championships at the Class 5A state swimming meet last month in Edmond, taking home first-place medals in the girls’ 200-yard and 500-yard freestyle races.
The win in the 500 was her fourth straight gold medal for the Metro Christian senior, which means she accomplished the rare feat of being a four-time state champion, a first in school history. Packard finished the 500 freestyle with a time of 5:13.94, winning by nearly 27 seconds over runner-up Kylie Allemeier of Altus (5:40.84).
“It’s an accomplishment that I can be proud of,” Packard said. “It’s just exciting.”
In the 200, Packard’s time was 1:54.67, finishing nine seconds ahead of Kyle Catton of Harrah (2:03.91), who placed second. That was her third first-place finish in that event, marking seven gold medals in her high school swim career.
“I give the Glory to God,” Packard said.
Her sophomore season was the only year she didn’t win the 200, when she finished runner-up. Rebounding to win it last year is what she considers among her most memorable moments in high school. Another came when she anchored the 200-yard freestyle relay team while setting a state record time of 1:43.03 in a first-place finish.
With graduation looming, Packard will be taking her swimming endeavors up north to the University of Illinois. She toured the campus in November then made the decision to go in early January. She chose the Fighting Illini over Air Force.
“I have family there, so that’s always a good thing, and whenever I went to talk to the coaches and met the team, it just felt like a really good fit.” Packard said. “It felt like I belonged there.”
As Packard reflects on her time at Metro. She said that the sport has taught her to have a hard work ethic.
“I work really hard to be dedicated,” she said. “Swimming has really helped me with being focused and being able to take constructive criticism in the pool and it has transferred into school, from projects to being able to accept that you don’t know everything, that you are not always right, and just learning from other people.”
Packard hopes her accomplishments can give the Metro swim team some recognition, “so, maybe we can grow. It gives people something to look up to and try to achieve and to win state.”
For any young person who wants to swim, Packard’s advice is to “Work really hard, even when you don’t feel like it,” she said. “It doesn’t always have to be effort-wise, but, work on something specific you need to get better at. Always try your hardest and don’t give up whenever you feel like you’re failing because I had a three-year period, where I didn’t go with any best times at all and still kept trying to work hard and not give up, and eventually, I started dropping time again. Just keep a positive attitude and hard work ethic.”