Audrey Davis in the 500 freestyle
Audrey Davis is shooting for a sub-6:20 time in the 500 freestyle, maybe even at 6:15. (Photo by Logan Hannigan-Downs/Philomath News)

Philomath High’s Audrey Davis prefers long distance when it comes to swimming. A competitor in the 500-yard freestyle, the Warriors senior likes to be able to put some thought into what she’s doing in the pool.

“I just have never liked sprinting. It doesn’t feel like I can get into it and feel my stroke and feel how I’m doing the turns and focus on my splits,” Davis said following a practice earlier this week. “I’ve just always been more inclined to distance I guess. Sprints — I start them and then they’re over … it’s hard for me to process what I did because it’s so short and fast and it’s just harder to improve or focus on what I’m doing.”

Davis and her PHS teammates will be competing at 1 p.m. Saturday in the district swim meet at Sweet Home. Winners in each event out of each 4A district will automatically advance to the March 26 state meet in Cottage Grove. The remaining available spots up to 12 will be filled out based on times out of all district results.

Davis’s goal in the 500 free is to get her time under 6:20. Her personal-best in the event was a 6:24.13 clear back on May 21. She will also compete in the 200 freestyle.

“For the 200, I want to get under 2:15 and for the 500 I want to get under 6:20 or maybe 6:15 if I can get there — that’s my super goal, but we’re going to try for it,” she said.

Among the other individuals for the girls, senior Melia Morton appears to be in the running for qualifying in the 100 breaststroke. A few of the team’s relays could also be in contention to move on to Cottage Grove.

Davis came into this swim season in shape to do some damage in the pool. She started workouts in March 2020 with the Corvallis Aquatic Team.

“I did dryland for a couple of months with them because we couldn’t get into the pool and then I swam all summer like three hours a day, it was horrible but fun,” she laughed. “I’ve just been swimming with them all the way until high school (season) … I can peak in this one since I’ve been preparing for a while.”

Melia Morton
Melia Morton (Photo by Logan Hannigan-Downs/Philomath News)

Morton, meanwhile, is in a different place. Unable to participate in swimming year-round, she’s not approaching PR times and just wants to finish knowing that she tried her best.

“It’s crazy for both track and swim team — all of these seasons have been cut short so PRs aren’t going to quite match up,” Morton said. “But I do think it’s about working hard and giving it your all at every practice and just taking what you can out of it.”

Besides relays, Morton will compete individually in the 100 breaststroke and the 200 freestyle. Morton should be in contention for a state-qualifying spot in the breaststroke. She placed seventh at the state meet last year with a personal-best time of 1:13.72. Morton’s top time in the event this year was 1:22.38.

“It is a little disappointing to see last year’s times and see how far I am from them but I’m also taking into consideration the short season,” Morton said. “I usually swim year round … it’s just good to be back in the pool.”

Morton’s idea of success will be to give it her all.

“There are races when you get out of the pool and you’re like, ‘ok, that was a good race’ no matter what the time is or where you placed,” Morton said. “For this year, I think that’s all it’s really going to take. I don’t think it really matters on times or where you place this year …. just that you gave it my all even if it didn’t match up with what it’s supposed to be.”

It’s been an odd swim season for coaches as well as they try to get the most out of their athletes.

“The big conversation with swimming and I know it’s similar in track but how do you taper the kids?” PHS coach Daniel Mikula said. “It’s such a finicky science to begin with, how do you taper kids who probably aren’t even ready for a taper?

“I’m kind of approaching it a little bit differently this year,” he added. “We’re looking at doing some high intensity, keeping the wheels greased, but just trying to work in a little bit extra rest in between sets and things like that and talk to them about doing the right things when not in the water to get rest.”

Each swimmer responds differently, however, and in a typical year, how an athlete tapers is unique to that individual.

“A lot of it is just resting and getting the mind right,” Mikula said heading into this weekend’s district meet. “The muscle that they really need to train and focus on right now is the one between the ears.”

Sweet Home plans to live-stream the meet on its YouTube channel. The boys were scheduled to compete Friday evening.

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