Olivia Swalley knew she just had to push herself a little harder during the 200-yard individual medley final of the 2022 Girls State Swimming and Diving Competition.
The Johnston senior approached the state record time of 2:00.33 set in 2012 by former Mason City and University of Iowa swimmer Emma Stougstad. Swalley won the event in 2020 and 2021 with times of 2:03.28 and 2:01.85 respectively and during the 2022 state heats she tied Stougstad’s mark after hitting the wall in 2:00.33.
“I actually know Emma,” Swaley said. “She’s one of the Y(MCA/WCA) coaches so I’ve known her for a while and it was funny to me that we were tied. But I knew I could be a bit tougher in the final.”
After completing the butterfly and backstroke portions of the medley, Swalley knew she was in great shape.
“I remember doing a flip turn during the backstroke and I was like, ‘I feel super good now and I knew my best strokes (breaststroke and freestyle) were coming, so I just had to make them really hard drive,” Swaley said. “It worked and it was just the best feeling.”
Swalley easily broke Stougstad’s mark. She became the first girl from Iowa to break two minutes in the state event with a time of 1:58.59.
“My senior year I wanted to have a festive season and not worry too much about it, and that’s just a dream come true,” Swaley said. “I never thought of getting a state record in my life. It was just so surreal.”
Swalley, who also won her third consecutive state championship in the 100-meter breaststroke, was named Athlete of the Year at the state convention. She is the Register’s Swimmer and Diver of the Year.
“She deserves it,” said Johnston girls’ swim coach Darin Robertson. “It wouldn’t be easy for her. She’s worked hard for everything she has and she thrives on competition.”
Swalley won the state’s 100 backstroke championship in 1:01.50. It is the second fastest attempt in state history.
She claimed the 2020 and 2021 titles at the event with times of 1:04.12 and 1:02.98 respectively.
Swalley also did whatever she could to help her teammates succeed in the State Finals.
Swalley teamed with Olivia Frantum, Faith Frantum and Hailey Jensen to finish second to Waukee with a time of 1:45.07 in the 200-medley relay. She teamed with the Frantum sisters and Gianna Stasi to swim a 3:29.92 in the 400 freestyle relay, which also earned the Dragons a silver medal behind Waukee.
Their efforts helped Johnston score 184 points to finish third as a team behind Waukee (402) and Dowling Catholic (267.5).
“It’s been really fun watching her grow over the past few years,” Robertson said. “She has an amazing stroke and she works hard on that every day. It’s an inspiration to the rest of the team.”
Now Swalley has his sights set on a bright future. She brings her talent to Iowa City to swim for the Hawkeyes and coach Nathan Mundt.
“It’s definitely very humbling for me,” Swaley said. “I’m really looking forward to working with Nathan and (Iowa assistant) Mona (Groteguth) next year. I’m really excited and so grateful for the opportunity.”