The McPherson High and Smoky Valley girls didn't waste any time in presenting a united front as the 2013 season began in earnest Thursday, hitting five state qualifying times and medaling three times at Topeka's Hummer Sports Complex.
Smoky Valley junior Claire Denk, in particular, made the most of her first ever meet as a high school swimmer, hitting the state qualifying mark in three races and being a part of all three of MHS' medals.
"I was very pleased to see the two high schools come together and swim as one team," MHS coach Bonnie Sue Fisher said. "They are working hard to include each other and even chose 'secret sisters' in order to give them all a chance to put together a good luck wish to one of their teammates."
That team togetherness shined in the first race out of the gate, a fourth place finish in the 200-yard medley relay. The team of Denk and McPherson seniors Sarah Almquist, Alex Underwood and Cheyenne Regier swam the race in a time of 2:09.39, making the state cut in that race.
Denk also was a part of the second place 200 freestyle relay with Regier, Almquist and Smoky Valley freshman Shea Cook. They also set a state time by finishing with a mark of 1:51.78. Additionally, Regier qualified for state with her lead off time in the 50 freestyle.
Denk brought home a silver medal in the 200 individual medley with a time of 2:30.78 and made the state cut in the 100 freestyle with a time of 58.53, dropping two seconds off her personal best.
Fisher was pleased with the first outing, but did note some mistakes.
"Being the first meet of the season and having 10 freshmen meant there were a lot of 'freshman mistakes,'" Fisher said. "Sometimes the (Hummer Sports Complex) in Topeka can be a little overwhelming But, as I told the girls, nothing is a mistake unless you don't learn from it."
Full results were unavailable.
The next meet is Tuesday at Winfield.