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The Gazette KCRG
Posted November 1, 2012
Zhu leads defending runner-up West into state meet

Cedar Rapids Washington's Maddie Dietz swims the breast stroke leg of the 200 yard individual medley relay during a meet against Iowa City West Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2010 at the Coralville Recreation Center in Coralville. Iowa City West's Lilian Zhu won the event. (Brian Ray/ SourceMedia Group News)

IOWA CITY — Lilian Zhu has a plan of attack for Saturday.

The Iowa City West junior will be swimming in her third state meet, which begins Wednesday in Marshalltown with diving and continues at noon Saturday with swimming events.

Iowa City West's Lilian Zhu makes her way down the pool in the 100 yard backstroke event during the MVC Girls Swimming Championships at Washington High School in Cedar Rapids on Saturday October 13, 2012. Zhu placed second in the event with a time of 1:01.00. (Stephen Mally/Freelance)

Defending champion Ames and 2011 runner-up West Des Moines Valley are favored to contend for the team title. West, Cedar Rapids Kennedy and Linn-Mar are expected to be the top area finishers.

Zhu, who finished third in the 100-yard butterfly last year and was part of two top-six relay teams, will be in the 100 freestyle and 100 backstroke this year and the 200 medley and 400 freestyle relay.

A confident Zhu will step on the deck of the Marshalltown YMCA pool.

“I tried to get a lot of rest and get my homework out of the way early in the week,” she said. “A lot of girls feel really stressed in the week leading up to state. I tried to take it as easy as possible.

“I don’t usually get stressed that much, but I do try to keep myself in it and focused.”

West Coach Rob Miecznikowski believes Zhu is on track to have a big day

“She swam very controlled races (at last Saturday’s district meet),” he said. “She didn’t bust it out at all and she was still able to get the job done. I really think with a week of rest, she will turn in some great times at state.”

Not being rested hurt Zhu a bit in her individual events. She has the ninth-best time in the 100 backstroke and is seeded 12th in the 100 freestyle.

“I know she still doesn’t feel 100 percent comfortable in the water,” Miecznikowski said. “With one more week to rest and prepare, I think she will be able to move up.”

For Zhu, this meet is more about the team than individual performance.

“I am excited to see we have so many girls going for the first time,” she said. “It is an experience they will never forget.”

But Zhu knows she has to temper her enthusiasm and focus on details. She said that was the theme this week.

“Fine-tuning,” she said. “Getting those starts and those turns ready, that is really important at state where any little mistake can really cost you.”

“I’m feeling healthy and I’m ready. This is the most fun week of the season and I want to finish strong.”

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