Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – During her time as the City High swimming coach Mandi Kowal has quickly learned the process for updating the record board that hangs above the pool at Mercer Park Aquatic Center.
“I’ve ordered quite a few of those,” Kowal said while motioning toward the name cards on the school record board.
Grace Hoeper is the latest City High swimmer to require Kowal to update the board and the Solon junior continued to plaster her name all over the City High record books last week.
Hoeper set a City High school record in the 50 freestyle last season while winning a state title in the event in 23.34.
Earlier this season Hoeper added her name to the record board in the 200 freestyle when she clocked a time of 153.09.
Last Saturday at the Little Hawk Relays at Mercer Park Hoeper etched her name on the board for a third time setting the school record in the 100 freestyle with a winning time of 50.73.
“I kind of talked to her before the meet about getting the record so that’s really fun,” Kowal said. “I am really happy for her. She does a lot with leadership, she does a lot to buy in to the high school season and for club swimmers that’s really important.”
Hoeper continued what has been a stellar junior season with two individual titles at the Little Hawks relays last week.
She just missed breaking her own school record while winning the 50 freestyle in 23.37 and broke the previous school record in the 100 freestyle of 51.89 set by Heidi Stalkfleet in 2020
“I was happy with both my races, especially considering at this time last year I was a full second off my pr in some races and this year I am really ahead of where I was,” Hoeper said. “(Setting a record) wasn’t the biggest goal at that meet but just to have that checked off and focus on the next things is a really good feeling.”
Following a breakthrough sophomore season at City High last year Hoeper upped the intensity during her offseason training.
That showed when she qualified for the Speedo Junior National Championships held in Irvine, California in August.
Hoeper competed in the 50 and 100 freestyle at the event and entered the high school season last month more confident and excited to be back around her teammates at City High.
“Getting that opportunity and seeing my hard work paying off in that way is going to boost your confidence a little but I also think it’s having my teammates behind me that has given me confidence,” Hoeper said. “At City High swimming is such a team sport and these teammates have been behind me the whole time and that’s a great feeling.”
A more confident Hoeper has turned into a leader for City High and one of the best swimmers in the state.
Hoeper has met automatic state qualifying standers in five events (50 freestyle, 100 freestyle, 200 freestyle, 500 freestyle and 100 butterfly) this season and has top-three times state-wide this season in six of eight individual swimming events.
“I’ve been a little bit more committed to swimming but also I think it’s just getting that confidence,” Hoeper said. “I am an upperclassman now and I have that feeling that I need to lead our team and stepping up to the plate and stepping into that position has really helped me.
Hoeper has the fastest time in the state in the 50 freestyle, the 200 freestyle and the 100 butterfly.
She has the second fastest time in the state in the 500 freestyle and the third fastest time in the 100 freestyle and the 200 IM.
At a dual meet on Tuesday Hoeper won the backstroke.
“It’s definitely something that I love doing every year with my coaches I never want to be put in my sprint events all the time because that gets boring and repetitive,” Hoeper said. “I love swimming all the races, the 500 isn’t my favorite event or anything but it’s nice to have that change of pace and mix things up.”