Olivia Swalley knew she had to push herself just a little harder to reach the 2022 girls state swimming and diving finals in each of the 200 yards.
The Johnston senior tied the state record time of 2:00.33, set by former Mason City and University of Iowa swimmer Emma Stougstad in 2012. Swalley won the event in 2020 and 2021 with respective times of 2:03.28 and 2:01.85 and during the 2022 state preliminaries mark Stougstad tied it after touching the wall in 2:00.33.
“I know Emma,” said Swalleius. “The Y(MCA/WCA) coaches are the same, so we’ve known her for a while and it was funny to me that we tied. But I knew I could go a little harder in the finals.
After finishing the butterfly and the back part of the fargago, Swalleius knew that she was in great shape.
“I remember I did a backstroke in a flip-turn and thinking to myself I feel super good now and I knew my best shots (breaststroke and freestyle) were coming, so I just had to push them really hard,” Swalleius said. “It worked and it felt like the best.”
Swaleius easily broke the goal of Stougstad. She became the first Iowa girl to break two minutes in the event with her state time of 1:58.59.
“My senior year I wanted to have a great season and not worry too much about it and this is a dream come true,” Swalle said. “I never thought about getting public in my life. It was so surreal.”
Swalleius, who also won his third straight state championship in the breaststroke, was named the state’s Athlete of the Year. She is the king’s girl swimmer and diver of the year.
“He deserved it,” said Johnston girls swimming coach Darin Robertson. “It’s not going to come easy to her. She’s worked hard to get everything she’s got and thrives in competition.”
Swales won the 100 backstroke championship at state in 1:01.50. The second attempt was the fastest in the state’s history.
He took the 2020 and 2021 titles in the event with respective times of 1:04.12 and 1:02.98.
Swalley also did everything he could to help his teammates succeed in the state finals.
Swalleius teamed up with Olivia Frantum, Faith Frantum and Hailey Jensen to take second for Waukee in the 200 relay with a time of 1:45.07. She, along with sisters Frantum and Gianna Stasi, swam 3:29.92 in the 400 freestyle, which also earned the Dragons a silver medal after Waukee.
His efforts helped Johnston score 184 points to place third in the state as a team behind Waukee (402) and Dowling Catholic (267.5).
“It’s true that in the last several years the show has been growing,” Robertson said. “She has a fantastic impact and it’s something she works on every day. There is encouragement for the rest of the team. ”
Now Swally has his sights set on a bright future. It takes talent in Iowa City to swim for the Hawkeyes and coach Nathan Mundt.
“This is absolutely humbling for me,” Swalle said. “I’m so excited to work with Nathan and (Iowa assistant) Mona (Groteguth) next year. I’m excited and so grateful for the opportunity.”