THORNTON -- Fiona Dretzka does not claim to remember exactly why she has fallen short of her personal expectations at each of the past two state swim meets. She just knows both meets were disappointing, and that she vows this year will be much, much different.
Dretzka, a junior on the Legacy girls swim team, is just one of a solid handful of returning Lightning swimmers setting similar goals this season under first-year head coach Diana Wiles. After a series of coaching upheavals over the past few years, Wiles, an assistant last year, will rely on that group of highly motivated returnees like Dretzka as the Legacy program attempts to take a significant step forward this season.
"I've watched this program for a while, and it's a unique opportunity," Wiles said. "This team has a lot of club swimmers. My goal this year is to have more of a team spirit, and that's pretty much my bottom line. It's a large team, but it's going well. It's about getting those club swimmers to understand that high school is different from club, but still very valuable."
Dretzka has qualified for the Class 5A state finals the 200 individual medley and the 500 freestyle in each of her first two seasons and hopes to continue the upward trend she already has established, regardless of her own personal disappointment in her track record at state.
Two seasons ago as a freshman, Dretzka finished last among all qualifiers in the preliminary heats of the individual medley and was spared that same fate in the 500 freestyle only by a disqualification for another swimmer. She improved markedly last year, taking 6.62 seconds off her previous state final time in the individual medley while also shaving more than 11 seconds off her final time in the 500 free.
"I'm definitely looking to go a lot faster and drop a lot of time," Dretzka said. "I haven't performed as well as I'd hoped at the last two states. I'm hoping to make finals and swim a lot faster than in the past. I honestly can't even remember what the problems were. There's always a lot going on at that time with club swimming and high school and school. I always feel like I get a little worn down at state and haven't performed as well as I wanted to. I'll have to change some things up to get faster."
Dretzka and sophomore Elysia Hartojo each were part of a Legacy medley relay team that reached the consolation finals at the state meet, ultimately finishing 16th, and Wiles hopes the Lightning's improved depth can lead to similar results this season in the two freestyle relay events.
Legacy also returns sophomore Mary Lombardi and senior Rachel Wood, both of whom were part of Legacy's state-qualifying 200 freestyle relay team, and Lombardi also competed at state in the individual medley and the 500 freestyle.
"This year I'm really looking to drop in my 500, because that was my event last year," Lombardi said. "I'm trying to make it back to finals at state this year. That's my main goal for the season, but I'm also looking to drop in the other events as well."
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