WATERLOO — Metro swimmers Carley Caughron, Grace Frericks and Emma Clark haven’t taken long to establish themselves alongside the state’s elite.
All three were underclassmen when they climbed onto the podium at last year’s state meet. Caughron has already become the Waterloo record-holder in the butterfly, and Frericks owns Cedar Falls’ top time in the backstroke.
Frericks’ freshman state debut included a narrow runner-up finish in the backstroke, 55.77-55.87, against West Des Moines Dowling’s Katie Broderick. She added a fourth-place finish in the 50 freestyle and was part of two relays that placed among the top six.
“She really wanted to win the 100 backstroke at state, and coming in second kind of upped the ante and boosted her drive coming into this year,” Cedar Falls coach Scott Pinter said.
Frericks’ offseason included a taste of competition against some of the best collegiate prospects across the nation. She qualified for the Speedo Summer Junior National Championships at Stanford University that took place from Aug. 6-10.
“She has done a fantastic in taking ownership of what she’s doing,” Pinter said. “She put in more time in the pool and definitely upped the training intensity. I’m really excited to see what we can do in these next couple months.”
Cedar Falls sprinter Emma Clark is set for her junior season after finishing fourth in the state 100 and fifth in the 50 freestyle, in addition to competing on placewinning relays for a Tigers’ team that finished fifth overall.
Pinter has welcomed a large group of newcomers, including a few freshmen from a sharing agreement with Waverly-Shell Rock.
At Waterloo, coach Jeff Kamp will be instructing a team of 20 girls — his largest roster.
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Caughron is a valuable leader coming off a breakthrough sophomore state meet in which she placed fourth in the individual medley and sixth in the butterfly.
“I don’t see any reason why, to be honest, she can’t win the 100 fly this year,” Kamp said. “She’s right there with the best of them.”
Beyond her talent, Caughron has helped her teammates improve.
“She’s a very good instructor,” Kamp said. “After her workouts, she’d work with people on starts and turns. Sometimes swimmers who swim fast can’t teach, but she’s a very good teacher and a great leader.”
Juniors Rylie Long and Jade Cox join Caughron as leaders within Waterloo’s team that continues to grow. Kamp has been pleased with the continuity that has started to surface from the junior high to high school ranks.
“I like our team,” Kamp said. “I think it’s one of the best teams I’ve had. It’s a young team so we’ve just got to teach the freshmen to swim competitively.”
There’s plenty of metro talent on the diving board, as well.
Cedar Falls’ Ashton Syharath placed fifth and Waterloo’s Lauren Kimball 10th at last year’s state meet. They are poised to move up the podium in 2019. Avery Hogan, the younger sister of fourth-place diver Taylor Hogan from Waterloo, is another promising competitor for Waterloo’s youthful team.