Decatur High School freshman swimmer Kimberly Walling had two goals at the start of this season. The first was to compete at least once in every event. The second was to reach the state competition.
She was not expecting, however, to qualify for the district tournament in every event she could — the 50-, 100-, 200- and 500-yard freestyle, the 100 backstroke, 100 breaststroke, 100 butterfly and 200 individual medley.
That was a surprise.
“I didn’t know at first,” Walling said, adding coach Sam Hunt hadn’t released any of the swimmers’ times until further into this season.
When he did, and Walling, learned her times in each event had qualified for the district tournament, she said she was caught off guard.
“I was like, ‘are you sure this is actually right?’ she said. “I was pretty happy with that.”
While Hunt, who is only in his second year coaching swimming, said he knew Walling’s feat was special, but he did not know how often it actually happens.
As it turns out, not much.
Todd Beamer High School girls swim coach Jennifer Larsen said it is rare for even the most accomplished swimmer to qualify in so many events.
“It doesn’t happen very often,” she said. “You might see it happen once every four or five years. It’s usually the guys that are able to get that done. So it’s pretty impressive when they’re able to do that.”
Walling will not actually be competing in each of the events this weekend, however.
Instead, she will be competing in two individual events, the 100 butterfly and 200 individual medley, and two relays — the 200 IM and 400 free.
She said she wanted to compete in the 100 butterfly because it is her best event, and Hunt chose for her to compete in the 200 individual medley based on her times and her seeding.
Now she has her sights set on going to state, but this weekend at the district competition will be her last chance to qualify.
Walling said she has to shave almost two seconds on her 100 butterfly time, but she has been working hard to do so by trying different breathing techniques and strategies to see if she can.
“I’m just trying to improve all the time,” Walling said.