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Steinmetz shows improvement on big stage

Zoe Steinmetz swam the individual medley at the state individual championships. PHOTO: JEFF SHORT

Zoe Steinmetz is always looking to improve.

The Little Flower High School swimmer practices all year long to make sure she’s the best she can be when she gets in the pool.

But last year, the event she felt she needed the most work on was the 200-meter individual medley.

It seems she really worked on it.

“Last year I didn’t do the IM much, and I really wanted to work on it,” said Steinmetz, a sophomore. “I worked on it a lot. I’m getting better, I’m pretty good at the breast stroke, and you need to be good at that in the IM. But I had a lot to work on.”

She’s now among the best in the state in the race.

Steinmetz qualified for the state championships that were held at Bucknell University, and once she got there, she only got better.

She was seeded 32nd and ended up finishing 26th while posting her best time in the race. It was difficult because she was in the eighth lane, but instead of worrying about things she couldn’t control, she dove right in and, in the process, joined a long list of great Sentinel swimmers.

“I was really surprised, I had a good competition, but I was shocked I made it and super excited to compete there,” said Steinmetz, who lives in Fox Chase. “When I qualified to go, I was super excited because all of my Little Flower teammates were screaming across the pool. It was definitely a goal to get there.

“It was honestly very intimidating to be there, but I felt a very good energy at states. It was electrifying. I wasn’t really nervous. I felt like I had nothing to lose. I knew whatever happened, my coach and my family would be proud and nobody would be upset. I think the no pressure made it more fun.”

Especially after she saw her time drop.

The sophomore showed improvement all year, but she dropped six spots in the race because in her biggest race of the season, she performed her best.

“It definitely felt good to do what I did there,” Steinmetz said. “Once I got there, I was in a great head space. I felt good. I was prepared. I just went out and did the best I could. It’s kind of crazy that I got to states. There have been so many great Little Flower swimmers who made it this far and it’s great to be included with them.”

Steinmetz isn’t kidding.

Ally McHugh, who went on to swim for Penn State and is looking to make the Olympics , her sister Kelley and Gina Cantoral were all standout swimmers for Little Flower. From now on, Steinmetz will be included in that illustrious list.

But it didn’t just happen. Steinmetz earned everything she got, whether she was swimming at Little Flower or with her Penn Charter club team. She gives Penn Charter coach Crystal Keelen and Sentinels coach Sean Clothier a lot of credit for helping her improve in the pool.

“I just started swimming at Penn Charter this year,” Steinmetz said. “I started swimming with Crystal Keelen at Penn Charter, working on my technique, perfecting the turns, I think with her help and guidance, I was really able to push it at states. Practicing like that really helped me get getter.

“And swimming for Little Flower is great. I don’t practice with them every day when I’m with my club, but I made every dual meet and Sean was great. I want to give kudos to Sean, he’s such an amazing person, I wouldn’t have gotten to states without him. I’m blessed to have him as coach. He does so much for me and all the swimmers.”

Steinmetz did her part to help the Sentinels, too.

On top of giving them a consistent scorer every time she was in the water, she used her experience to give the newer swimmers guidance.

“I always tried my best and me and a few other girls were trying to hype the team up,” Steinmetz said. “There’s a lot of new swimmers who didn’t know how everything works. We were really supportive and it was a big motivator. We did pretty well.”

For as well as she does in the pool, Steinmetz is a better student.

She’s ranked atop her sophomore class, takes advanced placement classes, maintains a 98 average and a grade point average of 5.3.

“It’s hard to balance both, but I’ve been able to do it,” Steinmetz said. “I don’t let one take over the other. You just have to make sure you make time for both of them.

“They take up a lot of my time, but I love hanging out with my friends, my friends are amazing. I like reading and hanging out with my brothers, too. Ethan is 14 and Jake is 10, we hang out, play video games, do things like that.”

She plans on continuing that, but also wants to continue to get better in swimming. Next year, her goal is to improve upon this year.

“I’m happy I went to states this year, it will definitely help if I go back,” Steinmetz said. “It’s definitely good, getting acclimated to the pool and getting acclimated to the people, seeing how the heats work, and it’s good to know who I’m going against in states. I know who I’m up against and I know how hard I have to work to get back there.”

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