CEDAR RAPIDS – Alexa Klimes didn’t know diving was even an option until last season.
Linn-Mar Coach Chad Derlein recruited swimmer to fill in for the team’s second diving relay in a special competition. Klimes, a junior then, was not eligible to compete on that sophomore team, but the notion was in motion.
“It was so fun,” Klimes said. “I always wanted to do it just for fun, so I begged Chad. He said he’d let me do it.”
Klimes took advantage of the opportunity, helping Linn-Mar win an uncontested diving event and two swim relays and place second in the J-Hawk Relays on Saturday at Cedar Rapids Jefferson. Mason City won the team title with 110, 16 more than Linn-Mar.
Stories about how this current chance arose. Derlein said he asked Klimes, while she said it was offered to swimmers and Klimes insisted she was the one to choose. Either way, Derlein recalled her excitement to dive.
“She was tickled pink,” Derlein said. “She did very well.”
Klimes spent about the last week practicing two dives for the competition, teaming Heather Culver and Bailee Seger to score 139.65 points. She adjusted to the task, learning an inward front dive and front somersault off the 1-meter board.
“They helped critique and perfect it,” Klimes said. “I didn’t do as well as I was hoping. I wanted a 6.0 (score), but I got a 5.5.”
The performance surpassed her coach’s expectations. She also displayed leadership in expanding her role with the team.
“She scored more points than I thought she would,” Derlein said. “She did well to step in that role to support the team.”
Make no mistake, Klimes is more comfortable swimming. Her diving career is over, despite joking with her coach and others that she was sacrificing knifing through the water for jumping in it. Klimes owns a new appreciation for diving.
“It’s nerve-racking,” Klimes said. “You have one chance to do it and I knew this would be my one chance.”
The unique relay-only meet provides the only chance to swim some of the events. The 300 individual medley, 400 medley, 300 breaststroke, 300 backstroke, 300 butterfly and 600 free relay are among the events not in regular varsity contests. The approach is slightly different for these races.
“The girls always have fun at this meet,” Derlein said. “It increases their motivation, because they always swim faster in relays than individuals. They always want to step up because they don’t want to let anyone down.”
The Lions 300 medley relay of Klimes, Rachel Velazquez and Samantha Fitzgerald finished first in 3:33.04. Klimes and Fitzgerald joined Lauren Dalecky and Lauren Reynolds to win the 200 free relay in 1:46.79.
Dalecky, Reynolds and Katie Schwaegler posted a time of 4:02.32 for the 300 breaststroke relay. Derlein will take the performance, even though the focus remains on championship season in October.
“We had some good swims,” Derlein said. “It was better than I expected. They lived up to what I asked.”
The host J-Hawks captured a title near the end of the day. Olivia Northrup, Ashley Anderson, Hailey Sullivan and Emily Ritchie teamed to win the 400 free relay, coming in at 4:08.92. The quartet shaved about six seconds from its time last week.
“They wanted to have some fun and swim fast,” Jefferson Coach Ryan York said. “It was good.”
Williamsburg tied Keokuk for third with 54 points.
According to York, in sophomore competition both the Linn-Mar and Jefferson dive teams surpassed the old pool record. Alyssa Deuso, Mikaela Lengwin and Georgia Sanderson set the new mark, winning with a total of 193.60 points. The J-Hawks’ Hannah Martin, Lucy Schneekloth and Katelyn Canby posted a 175.70.
At C.R. Jefferson
Teams - 1. Mason City 110, 2. Linn-Mar 94, 3. (tie) Keokuk and Williamsburg 54, 5. C.R. Jefferson 46
Diving - 1. Linn-Mar (Heather Culver, Alexa Klimes, Bailee Seger), 139.65; 400 medley relay - 1. Mason City (McClaren Rodriguez, Jenna Cornick, Alaina Berg, Abby Morse), 4:36.36; 2. Williamsburg 5:21.44; 600 free relay - 1. Mason City (Sam Kraft, Madeline Aberg, Amanda Wuttke), 6:30.97; 2. Keokuk 7:02.49; 3. Linn-Mar 7:32.31; 200 free relay - 1. Linn-Mar (Lauren Dalecky, Klimes, Lauren Reynolds, Samantha Fitzgerald), 1:46.79; 300 backstroke relay - 1. Mason City (Rodriguez, Aberg, Wuttke), 3:28.50; 2. C.R. Jefferson 3:50.45; 3. Linn-Mar 3:59.22; 300 medley relay - 1. Linn-Mar (Klimes, Rachel Velazquez, Fitzgerald), 3:33.04; 2. Mason City 3:36.48; 3. Williamsburg 3:42.43; 300 breaststroke relay - 1. Linn-Mar (Dalecky, Katie Schwaegler, Reynolds), 3:53.95; 2. Mason City 4:16.82; 3. Williamsburg 4:22.33; 300 butterfly relay - 1. Mason City (Crystal Florman, Berg, Kraft), 3:23.11; 2. Keokuk 3:32.47; 3. Linn-Mar 3:33.40; 400 free relay - 1. C.R. Jefferson (Olivia Northrup, Ashley Anderson, Hailey Sullivan, Emily Ritchie), 4:08.92; 2. Mason City 4:10.74; 3. Keokuk 4:15.87; 200 medley relay - 1. Mason City (Rodriguez, Cornick, Berg, Abbey Snitker), 2:04.31; 2. Williamsburg 2:07.38; 3. Linn-Mar 2:15.86.