Lifetime best finish earns Schouten a PIAA medal

By on March 18, 2015
Warwick sophomore Emma Schouten earned her first State medal last Saturday night, placing eighth in the Triple-A girls 500 free in a lifetime best 5:01.66. (Photo by Mike Shull)

Warwick sophomore Emma Schouten earned her first State medal last Saturday night, placing eighth in the Triple-A girls 500 free in a lifetime best 5:01.66. (Photo by Mike Shull)

In her first trip to the State Triple-A Swimming Championships in 2014, Emma Schouten admitted that she was like a deer in headlights.
Under the bright lights of last weekend’s PIAA Meet, it was a different story for the Warwick sophomore.
Schouten, with nerves in check, brought home her first State medal, an eighth-place finish in the girls 500 freestyle in a lifetime best 5:01.66, at Bucknell University’s Kinney Natatorium on Saturday night.
Besides that, she also reached the B-finals in the 100 breaststroke and placed 14th in 1:05.76.
“(My goal) was to get in the A-final in at least one event,” Schouten said. “To be in both finals is pretty awesome. I’m really happy about that. That was my goal to get a medal.”
No less awesome was the fact that Schouten was one of just two sophomores in the 500 free A-finals.
“Her work ethic doesn’t need questioning,” Warwick coach Mark Daum said, “so if she stays healthy from the neck up and the neck down, we’ll see what happens.”
Schouten’s mental toughness was certainly on display in being able to compete in the 100 breaststroke consolation finals just 20 minutes after getting out of the pool from the rigorous 500 free. To her credit, her time of 1:05.76 was basically equal to her finish in the prelims (1:05.61).
“You talk about a double,” Daum said, “I mean, it’s almost unheard of. When you swim the longest event and then come back and swim breaststroke, it’s a real tough double. And she did it.”
Warwick’s Lauryn Ober was in the same shoes that Schouten was last year, getting her first taste of States in her freshman season. Seeded 25th in the 200 I.M., she placed 24th in Friday’s preliminary heats in 2:10.40. Then on Saturday, Ober took 21st in the 100 breaststroke in 1:06.58, not far behind Oakland Catholic’s Courtney Coghill, who claimed the 16th and final spot in the finals in 1:06.13.
“Missed it by four-tenths,” Daum said. “In her IM, she was right there at the 150. Her freestyle was a little tired coming home. But you can’t replicate this. I mean, you try to say, ‘It’s another meet,’ and you do those things and so forth. But when they walk out and they see everybody and the stands are packed and they see all these kids, it’s like (eye-opening).”
The stands were packed for the 500 free as well. As the 11th seed in that event entering States with a time of 5:03.97, Schouten had her work cut out to get into a medal spot in the A-finals &tstr; reserved for the top eight.
Advance she did, though, with her time of 5:04.40 in the prelims, good for the No. 7 spot, just ahead of Hershey’s Maggie Lee (5:04.66), heading into the finals.
“Definitely less nerves (than last year),” said Schouten, who earned All-State in the 500 free and All-State Honorable Mention in the 100 breaststroke. “Before the race, you just think, ‘No one has the medal yet.’ This year, I felt more ready.”
“(Emma) swam tough (in the prelims),” Daum said. “The load was off when she knew she was in the final eight, she won that medal.”
Then it was just a matter of which medal she would get. Schouten jumped off the starting blocks with a more conservative approach than she did at Districts, swimming an opening 50 leg of 27.70 seconds which had her tied for seventh with Parkland’s Victoria Connolly.
Two weeks earlier, her first split was 26.70 at Districts, which placed her in the early lead. But she was unable to maintain the pace.
“My goal was just to stay with the people next to me,” Schouten said, “instead of going out ahead, and then seeing how much I had left at the end.”
From there, she settled into splits of 30.05, 30.27, 30.73, 30.55, 30.54, 30.85, 30.75, and 30.74.
Swimming in the eighth position most of the way, Schouten briefly pulled ahead of Oxford sophomore Morgan Curl in the lane beside her after 400 yards with a time of 3:30.69.
“Our goal was just to be as close to her as possible,” Schouten recalled. “Mark told me before I swam, ‘Know everything about her. Just be that close to her.’”
“That was the goal to go out in 27 (seconds) and then hold 30, 30, 30,” Daum said. “The third 50 was 31 and we got on her with the counter and then she brought it back down. It’s just experience &tstr; the consistency is getting better as she gets older … If you do everything right and you do the little parts &tstr; each 50, each split, and each everything else &tstr; the time will take care of itself. So you build on it and then you say, ‘OK, let’s see what happens.’”
The strategy of having more left at the end than she did at Districts paid off, as Schouten swam a final 50 of 29.48 seconds and just missed catching Lee (5:00.85) for seventh place. Curl was sixth in 5:00.82, while Parkland’s Erin Jordan took fifth place in a time of 5:00.65.
Asked how she felt at the end of the race, Schouten said, “Pretty good. I had a little bit of energy left. I felt a little bit of determination. It’s just an honor being here, and to be able to get a medal, it feels pretty good.”
“The bridal was on a little bit better than Districts,” Daum said. “She reacted instead of making them react to her. She was right there with them. The final four girls were boom, boom, boom, boom at the wall. It could have been anybody. She could have gone as high as fourth or fifth. It’s just one of those things. But tactically, it was her best race. And the good part is it’s her best time, so it’s reinforced that, “OK, my best time, my best race, this is what I need to do.’”
Her previous best in the 500 free was 5:03.69, which she reached while winning the L-L gold medal in February. Saturday’s time of 5:01.66 easily topped it.
“Lifetime best time by two seconds … just incredible,” Daum said.
Her effort in the 100 breaststroke marked another incredible performance. With precious little time to recover from the 500 free, Schouten gutted out a sixth-place finish in the B-finals &tstr; 14th overall &tstr; and held her seed from the prelims with her time of 1:05.76.
“I’m feeling pretty happy about that,” she said. “The first 25, I felt really good. Then the third 25, my legs were pretty tired, but I tried to overcome that as much as I could.”
As Schouten’s smile indicated afterward, she did exactly that.
“It’s a progression,” Daum said. “With this meet, you don’t come up here in one year and just boom … she got the experience last year. It was all good.”


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