Your Prep Sports
With COVID-19 protocol preventing fan attendance at the state swimming and diving meet Heidi Stalkfleet didn’t get to experience the usual electric environment in her first trip to the annual event.
That didn’t stop it from being a memorable state meet debut for the City High junior.
Stalkfleet posted a pair of top-three finishes and set three school records in her first ever trip to the state meet last weekend at the Marshalltown YMCA
“Everyone was telling me ‘I wish you could experience being at the Marshalltown pool with spectators’ they all said it is a crazy environment,” Stalkfleet said. “I thought the swimmers and coaches did a good job of making it an encouraging, exciting environment with everyone cheering for each other to make up for the lack of spectators. It was a really fun experience and something that was really exciting to be a part of.”
Although she was making her first appearance at state Stalkfleet is far from the typical state meet newcomer.
An accomplished swimmer with the Iowa Flyers club, Stalkfleet elected to give high school swimming a go for the first time this fall with the coronavirus pandemic leaving club swimming opportunities up in the air.
The result was a record-setting season for Stalkfleet who flourished in her first prep season.
“It really reminded me how fun swimming can be because with club it can get pretty serious and swimming with people of all ability levels and being reminded of why I started swimming it was really nice,” Stalkfleet said. “(City High coach) Zane (Hugo) made practice fun every day it was really a fun experience.”
Stalkfleet closed her debut season with a stellar showing on the state’s biggest stage.
She set school records and posted third-place finishes in each of her individual events.
A distance specialist for her swimming club, Stalkfleet posted the fourth fastest 500 freestyle time in state history with a 4:49.86 in the prelims on Friday.
Stalkfleet placed third with a time of 4:51.22 in the finals on Saturday finishing behind West High senior Aurora Roghair who broke the state record set by runner-up Jessi Wigham of Waukee in the prelims.
“I love the 500, I’m a distance swimmer on my club team I swim the mile the 1,000 and the 500 so the 500 is kind of a sprint for me, it’s one of the shorter races I get to do so I love it,” Stalkfleet said. “I have swam against Aurora and Jessi on the club side of things so I know a little bit about how they race and so I definitely knew it would be a close race.”
Stalkfleet set a school record with a 55.37 in the 100 butterfly prelims on Friday.
She grabbed a medal in the 100 butterfly on Saturday placing third in a time of 56.3.
Stalkfleet had top-five times in the state in the 100 and 200 freestyle but elected to go with the 100 butterfly as her second individual event in the postseason.
“Ultimately it came down to where we thought I could end up at the state meet,” Stalkfleet said. “The fly was a less pressure event, it was a little more of a fun event for me.”
In her final event of the meet Stalkfleet helped City High to a 15th place finish in the 400 freestyle relay by posting a school record on the leadoff leg.
Stalkfleet opened the event with a 51.89 to break the previous school record set last season by Carly Weigel.
“That was my goal going into the relay just because I knew it would motivate me,” Stalkfleet said. “I’m not the best sprinter so I like to try to take advantage of those opportunities when I can sprint.”
Stalkfleet elected to swim during the high school season as an opportunity to compete and improve.
She relished the opportunity to do both this fall in a time of uncertainty around the sport.
“I didn’t have as many time goals it was more just mental goals,” Stalkfleet said. “I wanted to focus on being less nervous when I raced and racing every week definitely helped with that because I had more opportunities to practice racing.”