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State swimming champ sets longer goal
State swimming champ sets longer goal
By TONY LANGE
Three years ago, many swimmers from around the world left Beijing with London on their minds. Other topnotch swimmers watched the Olympic Games from halfway around the world. London was on their minds too.
In 2008, at age 13, Solon's Danielle Margheret had more important things in life to worry about -- like what high school she would attend.
After growing up in the Solon public school system, playing sports was never a determinant in where she would attend high school, she said. Margheret was more worried about the right fit for the next four years of her life, she said.
"Sports had nothing to do with my decision," said Margheret, a rising junior at Walsh Jesuit High School. "I wasn't even sure if I was going to swim my freshman year."
If she decided to swim, she knew she would be in good company at Walsh with the Warriors' 12-year head swim coach, Wally Lutkus, she said.
Margheret began swimming for Lutkus when she was 8 years old as a member of his Cleveland Lancer Swim Club, a USA Swimming team based out of the Chagrin Valley Country Club in Moreland Hills.
As a freshman, Margheret played junior varsity soccer in the fall and then joined Lutkus and his varsity Warriors swim team. Breaking a school record, winning a district title and competing at the state meet were unexpected accomplishments that year, she said.
At the start of her freshman season, Margheret was swimming in the 1:16 range for her signature race, the 100-yard breaststroke. At the Division II district championship meet, she swam a 1:06.16, stood atop the podium and advanced to the state meet, where she placed ninth.
Her sophomore year, Margheret was a member of the Warriors varsity soccer team, which won a state championship before going on to win a national championship.
In swimming, Margheret not only added an individual championship title to her resume, but she broke the Division II state record in the 100-yard breaststroke at 1:02.74. She is the first state champion, boy or girl, in Warriors swimming history.
When high school swimming is not in season, Margheret continues swimming for Lutkus and represents CLSC during the USA Swimming season.
"Once you get to know a coach and they get to know you, it makes it a lot easier to relate, for them to help train you and work with you on your strokes," she said. "I think it's valuable to stay with your high school coach the whole year."
Most recently, Margheret, now 16, competed at the 2011 Speedo Junior National Championships, which was held Aug. 8-12 at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif. Nationwide, she placed eighth overall with her long-course time of 1:11.27 in the 100-meter breaststroke race. The Olympic trials cut for the 2012 London Games is 1:12.19. She has bested that mark three times this summer.
For those who are not familiar with the swimming world, long-course swimming involves Olympic-size 50-meter pools, not the typical 25-yard pool that many Americans call "Olympic-size."
The short-course 100-yard race is a three-turn swim and a shorter distance than the long-course 100-meter race, which only has one turn. Swimmers who pride their turns prefer 100-yard races. The turns at the ends of the pool enable swimmers to propel themselves off the walls, quickly covering yardage and reducing the number of swimming strokes needed to complete the race. The 1:11.27 time Margheret swam at nationals converts to a 1:02.41 short-course yards time.
"They're two completely different races," Margheret said. "My strength is definitely more of the open water, but I know I need to work on my turns and hopefully in the future turn it into one of my strengths."
Her breaststroke is centered on her kick, she said, and playing soccer has strengthened her legs.
Breaststroke is unique in the sport, considering it is the slowest of the four competitive strokes, and the frog kick requires much more leg endurance than the freestyle and backstroke flutter kick or the dolphin kick in the butterfly.
After dropping 10 seconds her freshman year and four seconds her sophomore year, Margheret said she doesn't ever plan to stop getting faster. She definitely plans to compete at the United States Olympic Trials come June 2012 in Omaha, Neb., she said.
"I've started a weight-training program, and I'm hoping my times never level off," she said. "I'm doing my best to prepare for it with practices and weight lifting and just trying to focus hard on getting better."
While many swimmers train more than three years for the Olympics, Margheret did not have the luxury of knowing her potential when she was 13.
In swimming, many Olympians are known to peak at above 50 miles a week -- the aerobic equivalent of running 200 miles -- while training. Swimming, however, does not equate to the wear and tear on one's body that runners endure.
In training for the Olympics, the goal is to build a big enough base that tapering, or resting and recovering, for the trials doesn't cause the athlete to get out of shape for the Olympics itself.
While many athletes compete at the Olympic trials, only two swimmers in each event are able to represent the United States at the games. In 2008, the top two Americans in the 100-meter breaststroke swam faster than 1:08.
"That's kind of been the number that's been in my head the whole time," Margheret said. "I know it's going to take time to get there, but I'm prepared to battle it out in practice, and I look forward to it."
Mental focus also is in the training equation. Media attention does not bother Margheret, she said. She is more intimidated about where she will attend college, she said.
"At this young age, I enjoy getting these questions from people like you," she said during an interview. "I like talking to you, because the recognition shows that my hard work pays off."
Although Margheret was part of a national championship soccer team, she decided to give up Warriors soccer this year, she said.
"I've decided, after my success this year in swimming, that I should probably focus on the Olympic trials," she said.
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