Life in the Fast Lane

Swimmers Win Gold, Bronzes at State


Photo Courtesy of Mickie Koltz

From left to right, junior Mickie Koltz, senior Thomas Wu and freshman Ella Mongenel pose with their medals after competing at State. All three of the students passed the preliminary competition, with Wu earning gold for the 100-meter breaststroke and Koltz and Mongenel earning bronze for the 200-meter individual medley and 100-meter freestyle respectively. “State this year was probably the best meet experience i’ve ever had,” Wu said. “While I had won last year, the guys and girls meet was separated and there were limited spectators, and so it was definitely not as exciting. This year, though, we had a very large team go from Cedar Park, and that honestly just made everything so much more fun.”

Madison Shields, Reporter

He dove into the pool and felt the cool water against their skin, knowing it was the last time seniors will swim with the rest of the team. The swim team competed for UIL state on Feb. 19 at the University of Texas at Austin. The three students who competed in individual events were senior Thomas Wu, junior Mickie Koltz and freshman Ella Mongenel. Wu finished with another gold medal under his belt, while Koltz and Mongenel finished with bronze.

Wu has been swimming since the age of three and joined the school’s team during freshman year. He competed in last year’s UIL finals where the team encountered the massive winter storm a week before. Even though they dealt with some difficulties in the form of extreme weather, Wu finished with a gold medal in the 100-meter breaststroke – a feat he repeated this year while also breaking the state time record for 5A.

“Thankfully, this year has been a lot more normal than last year, and there haven’t been any noticeable difficulties,” Wu said. “The whole year really built up to state, as I’ve been training nonstop ever since the school year started, and so it has been many early mornings and late nights of practice for me.”

The week leading up to state was filled with practices that consisted of workouts with less vigor. Koltz described it as tapering for the finals that were in the near future. Club teams took their swimmers off of high-intensity for the week leading up to state. The high school team focused more on technique rather than working on aerobic base or threshold. But the normal practice schedule includes continuous training inside and outside of the pool for Wu.

“I do swim outside of school, and I swim for a club called Nitro Swimming.” Wu said. “That’s actually where the majority of my training happens, as I have 8 practices a week that are 2 hours on average. I also have workouts twice a week for about 45 minutes that include normal gym exercises.”

The competition garnered more energy this year due to the state allowing more swimmers to attend the event. The prior year had a significantly smaller group of swimmers brought to state, and the increased number of competitors definitely changed the experience for Koltz.

“The energy was a lot better than last year, since there was COVID-19,” Koltz said. Our swim team was only able to bring two girls and two guys last year. This year, I think we brought about 24 to 25 people, so with our high school alone I think the energy was better with everybody being a little more excited. And since the whole state was able to bring more swimmers, the meet overall was a lot more exciting.”

Things were different for Mongenel since it was her first time swimming in a state competition. She swam all of the sprint events which consisted of events such as: the 100-meter freestyle, 50-free and 100-meter breaststroke. Even though she was nervous, she collected a bronze medal for her performance in the 100-meter freestyle. The team’s energy during state also encouraged Mongenel she said.

“It was nerve wracking at first, but the team environment was just so amazing that the support and everything really helped to make it a great experience,” Mongenel said. “It was exciting and feels like a really big accomplishment. It didn’t really hit me until I was at state, racing against a bunch of fast juniors and seniors. It was scary but fun.”

While it was Mongenel’s first time at state and Koltz’s second, it was Wu’s last. While not every senior swam at state, they are all done competing for the school. Saying goodbye to his high school career, the last competition made Wu reminisce about his time in the swim team.

“It was a very emotional last meet for the seniors,” Wu said. “As I’ve spent the past four years training and competing with the team, it definitely gave me extra motivation to end off high school on a good note, represent CP as best as I can, and leave a lasting legacy in Texas.”