At some point during the past four years, the freestyle races grew mundane for Park Hill South senior Tori Beeler. She told her swimming coaches that she preferred a greater challenge, and so the focus of her practice regimen began to center on the 200-yard individual medley — the only race to incorporate four strokes for a single swimmer.
“For me, that’s the most entertaining part of swimming because you get to do everything in one race,” Beeler said. “You can be the best at everything.”
And she was.
For the third straight season, Beeler won the Missouri state swimming championship in the 200 individual medley, and this time she added to the feat. She broke the all-time state-meet record when she touched the wall in 2 minutes, 0.24 seconds.
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For good measure, Beeler won the 100 freestyle, too, even though she calls the freestyle her worst stroke. She finished her high school swimming career with five individual state championship victories.
For the third consecutive year, Beeler is The Star’s All-Metro Missouri girls swimmer of the year.
“My goals this year were the same as always — I don’t really like to assume that I’m going to win anything,” Beeler said. “I had some very good competition, so nothing was guaranteed.”
Beeler, who will attend Nebraska on a swimming scholarship, also participated on the Panthers’ 200 freestyle relay, which placed second at the state meet, and their 400 freestyle relay, which finished fourth.
The Star’s All-Metro Missouri girls swimming team
200-YARD MEDLEY RELAY
Park Hill South (Georgia Clark, freshman; Anna Riekhof, senior; Maggie Hickey, senior; Allison Garrett, junior). The Panthers, who were the only Kansas City-area team to make the championship heat, placed fifth at state, totaling 28 team points.
Paige Riekhof, Park Hill South, sophomore. The versatile swimmer placed seventh in the 200 freestyle at the state meet and later added a sixth-place showing in the 100 butterfly.
200 INDIVIDUAL MEDLEY
Tori Beeler, Park Hill South, senior. It was only fitting that Beeler capped her high school career with two more state titles, including one in the 200 individual medley. She set a state-meet record with a time of 2 minutes, 0.24 seconds in the event.
Caroline Salzman, Pembroke Hill, sophomore. Salzman reached the wall in less than 25 seconds in both the preliminary and finals races at the state meet. She finished the finals in 24.65 seconds to place 11th.
Bailey Carter, Blue Springs South, sophomore. After winning the Suburban Gold Conference championship, Carter carried the momentum into the state meet, where she finished second with 390.80 points. She posted the best score in the preliminary round at state.
Maggie Hickey, Park Hill South, senior. Hickey saved her best for the final meet of her high school career. She completed the 100-yard butterfly in 57.50 seconds to place fourth in the state, improving on her qualifying and preliminary times.
Nani Welsh, Park Hill, sophomore. In addition to participating on two relay teams at the state meet, Welsh placed 11th in the 100 freestyle, finishing the finals race in 53.74 seconds.
Rachel Janiak, Staley, sophomore. Two weeks after winning the Suburban White Conference championship, Janiak placed sixth in the state with a time of 5 minutes, 9.65 seconds.
200 FREESTYLE RELAY
Park Hill South (Maryn Burns, senior; Maggie Hickey, senior; Paige Riekhof, sophomore; Tori Beeler, senior). The Panthers were a force in the relays at the state meet, and their best finish came in the 200 freestyle relay, in which they placed second.
Shaedyn Read, Blue Springs, freshman. The two-event winner at the Suburban Gold Conference championships placed 13th in the 100 backstroke at the state meet, completing the event in 59.63 seconds.
Allison Garrett, Park Hill South, junior. Three Park Hill South swimmers placed in the top 10 in the state race, led by Garrett, who was seventh with a time of 1 minute, 7.87 seconds.
400 FREESTYLE RELAY
Park Hill South (Maggie Hickey, senior; Paige Riekhof, sophomore; Allison Garrett, junior; Tori Beeler, senior). Another top-five finish in a relay race — the Panthers were fourth in the 400 freestyle — helped the Panthers place third in the team standings.