Three years ago, as a seventh-grader, Lindsey Horejsi made her debut at the girls’ swimming and diving state meet.
“She won the consolation race [in the 100 breaststroke],” said Albert Lea coach Jon Schmitz. “That’s when we knew she was something special.”
Since then, the Albert Lea sophomore hasn’t done anything to change her coach’s opinion.
As an eighth-grader, she finished second in the Class 1A 100-yard breaststroke. At last year’s meet, she won the 100 breaststroke in a state-record time of 1:00.16, breaking her own record of 1:00.43 set a day earlier in the preliminaries. She also finished third in the 50 freestyle.
Going into this year’s state meet — which begins Monday at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center — she has the top qualifying time in the 100 breaststroke and the 200 IM. Her qualifying time of 1:01.81 in the 100 breaststroke is more than three seconds faster than the second-best time and, according to Schmitz, is tops in the nation.
Horejsi is also a member of Albert Lea’s 200 freestyle relay (which has the top qualifying time) and 200 medley relay (third-best qualifying time) teams.
Schmitz said Horejsi has shown steady improvement.
“We went into this year with the goal of making her a more complete swimmer,” said Schmitz. “We’ve concentrated on the backstroke, which was her weakest event. We spent a lot of mornings on it. She has improved leaps and bounds.”
Horejsi credits her experiences at the 2012 Olympic Trials in Omaha and at a swimming camp at the University of Southern California this summer as tremendous learning opportunities.
“It was so cool to go [to the trials] and see the best of the best and how they compete,” Horejsi said. “ I learned a lot. This summer, at the USC camp, I saw swimmers from all over the U.S. I was able to see Rebecca Soni, the world record-holder [in the 200-meter breaststroke]. She swam a 1:02 coming out of high school, and now she’s the record-holder.”
Schmitz said Horejsi and her teammates, who finished seventh at the Class 1A meet last year, “are a much better team and much better prepared team this year. And a lot more experienced and confident. They’ve really done the work with more intense training.”
Horejsi, according to Schmitz, enjoys the grueling workouts.
“Even during the taper,” said Schmitz, “we had three days of two-a-day practices. She says her body responds better when she works harder. Her mom told me that when she started swimming [as a first-grader], she was always the first one in the pool. She’s still that way. One of the keys to her improvement is she loves to swim.”
Horejsi said she is looking forward to the state meet.
“I just to go off the atmosphere at the meet and swim my best,” she said. “That’s where all the hard work is paid off.”
As for setting a state record, Horejsi said: “It’s always a race against the clock. I’m always happy to compete at that level. I’m more excited than nervous.”