By Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
CORALVILLE – Alleyna Thomas had a simple goal going into the Mississippi Valley Conference swimming meet.
“Going into it I wanted to drop time and see how close I could get to my best times,” Thomas explained.
Thomas did a lot more than that last Saturday at the University of Iowa Campus Recreation and Wellness Center pool.
The West High junior post a career best time to win the 200 freestyle and helped the Women of Troy 400 freestyle relay team to a title in a MVC record time of 3:37.61.
In all, Thomas collected four top three finishes to help West High to a third place team finish.
“I wasn’t expecting that at all,” Thomas said of her performance. “It was really exciting, the whole meet I was super excited to see how well everyone was doing.”
Thomas claimed her individual title in the 200 free in a time of 1:58.29, more than three seconds better than her previous career-best time.
“Alleyna has grown and matured as an athlete a lot even in just the three years that I’ve known here,” West High coach Byron Butler said. “Her goal was to crack 2:00 and she crushed it, she absolutely crushed it.”
Thomas posted a 2:01.9 early in the season and as her training increased saw her time in the 200 free rise to the 2:04 or 2:05 range according to Butler.
After clocking a 2:06 in the event midway through the season Butler saw Thomas getting frustrated with her times.
He assured her as the season went on the times would lower. On Saturday Thomas proved her coaches right.
“Rob (assistant coach Rob Miecznikowski) told her right before her swim, expect to be out in front, if you are out in front at the 100 that’s not a mistake just keep going,” Butler said. “We were telling her that 2:00 is absolutely going to happen, let’s just see how far under we can get and I think now she really sees that we aren’t insane.”
Thomas added a third place finish in the 500 free in 5:15.46 but her most memorable moments came in the relays.
She joined Lily Ernst, Elaina Martz and Melanie Housenga in finishing second in the 200 free relay in 1:40.59.
The big performance from the Women of Troy came in the 400 free relay as the same foursome set a MVC record with a time of 3:37.61.
The time was nearly a second better than the West High school record of 3:38.5.
“At the beginning of the season we wanted to try to break the school record but we didn’t think we were going to,” Thomas said. “Then we get to conference record and we break not only our school record but the conference record and we were just blown away.”
All four swimmers in the 400 relay had times under 55 seconds as West High finished more than two seconds in front of runner-up Cedar Falls.
“I talked to coach Miecznikowski about the 18 years he has been with the girls team and he said he has never had a relay where every girl went 54 so it was just really cool what they did,” Butler said. “They didn’t exceed our expectations because I know they have more in them but I think they may have surprised themselves a little bit.”