By Kyle Shaner
VERSAILLES – Five girls are representing Versailles at the state swim meet, four of them for the final time.
Seniors Ashlyn Cordonnier, Lexi Fliehman, Abbey Marshal and Rachel Subler will represent Versailles at the Ohio High School Athletic Association Division II state swim meet along with junior Heather Albers. Junior Emily Kramer also will travel with the team to Canton as a relay alternate.
For the four seniors, it’s exciting to end their high school swimming careers at state but also a little sad.
“It’s going to be bittersweet swimming our last relays together because us four have always swam the relays together since we were younger through club swim and now high school,” Cordonnier said. “It will be very emotional swimming that last relay.”
Cordonnier, Fliehman and Marshal all are competing at the state meet for a fourth consecutive season. Subler is competing at state for a second time, as is Albers.
“They’re going to be missed next year,” said Versailles coach Penny Cromwell, who is assisted by Mark Travis. “They’re really going to be missed next year. These seniors have worked really, really hard all four years. They had a goal their freshman year; they wanted to get to state. They met that goal. That goal continued on their sophomore and junior year. And this year they want to drop their times, and they want to be higher up on the podium than they have been in the past.”
The four seniors all will team up in the 200 yard freestyle relay. They are seeded ninth in the state with a time of 1:40.08 and would like to finish in the top eight to earn a spot on the podium.
“They’re ready,” Cromwell said. “And as seniors they know this is their last opportunity so they want to get as high up as they can.”
Cordonnier, Fliehman and Marshal will team up with Albers in the 200 yard medley relay. The quartet is seeded 15th in the state with a time of 1:51.79.
“The atmosphere there, it has so much energy, and it gets you very excited,” Albers said of the state meet.
For a fourth consecutive year Fliehman will swim in four events at the state meet. Along with the two relays, she’ll compete in the 50 yard freestyle and the 100 yard freestyle.
“It’s a great feeling,” Fliehman said of competing at state again as a senior. “It’s definitely a memory that I will remember forever. It’s definitely an accomplishment, and I know that I’m going to go into college next year feeling proud of myself no matter what since our team has gotten so close together these past four years.”
Fliehman, who is committed to swim collegiately for Miami University, is seeded 18th in the 100 freestyle with a time of 53.73. She’s seeded seventh in the 50 yard freestyle with a time of 24.30.
“There’s not much time between where she’s seeded and the first place person,” Cromwell said of Fliehman’s chances in the 50 freestyle.
Fliehman would like to match last year’s state performance when she finished fifth in the 50 freestyle with a time of 23.92 and earned a spot on the podium.
“I believe that I can do it since I got fifth in state last year,” she said.
After making it to state as a relay team member the past three years, Marshal will compete individually for the first time this year in the 100 yard breaststroke. She’s seeded 21st in the state with a time of 1:09.22.
“I don’t really know what to expect,” she said. “I hope for the best, and I’m just excited that I made it individually.”
The Division II state preliminaries with the Versailles swimmers will begin at 5 p.m. Thursday at C.T. Branin Natatorium in Canton. The finals will be contested at 5 p.m. Friday in Canton.
Regardless of how they do, the Versailles girls are excited to compete at state and the seniors are happy to have one more chance to swim together.
“It’s awesome considering all of us four seniors have been swimming together since we were really little,” Subler said. “It’s cool that we can come together for a final meet.”
Looking back to when they were freshmen just starting out their high school careers, Cromwell said she knew this was a talented group. However, they’ve exceeded her expectations.
“I knew there was some talent, but I didn’t know how good of talent there was,” Cromwell said. “But they’ve worked hard, and every year they get faster. It’s been amazing to go back to their freshman times to where they are today. It’s like, wow.”
The girls have accomplished a lot in their careers, and they have one final chance to add to their list of accomplishments.
“I don’t think it’s going to hit me until next year when I’m not getting ready to swim,” Marshal said of competing one final time for Versailles. “It’s bittersweet. I don’t really think I’m ready for it to end yet.”