JEFFERSON — Josie Peterson has been to state before, but never by herself.
Peterson qualified as a sophomore in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle and as the lead leg of the 200-meter freestyle relay in 2018.
The Jefferson junior will return to the WIAA Division 2 state swim meet at UW Natatorium as an individual in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle after winning both events in the WIAA Division 2 Jefferson sectional on Saturday, November 9.
Last year, Peterson and her fellow Jefferson/Cambridge teammates leaned on each other for moral support while they were on deck as underclassmen handling the pressures of competing in a state meet. A four-year streak of the EagleJays sending their 200-yard freestyle relay to state ended this season.
Jefferson/Cambridge was two spots away from extending its state streak.
So, Peterson will spend the time on deck by herself.
“The time we got at sectionals, we thought we did have a chance because it was a low time for us,” Peterson said. “We were only two spots away from qualifying. It was kind of disappointing when we saw that, but that makes us more motivated and dedicated to fight for that spot.”
Peterson finished the 50-meter freestyle at sectionals in 24.34 seconds, which was a half of a second faster than her seed time set at the Southern Lakes Conference meet on the prior Saturday. Her time at sectionals puts her as a third seed. Peterson swam a slower time than her seed in 2018, so a spot on the podium isn’t a guarantee, but she does have a reason to breathe easy without stress of getting a top-six spot.
“At the beginning of this year, I would breathe maybe four times in each race,” said Peterson of her improvements in her races this season. “I cut it down to twice this year, so it’s once on the way down and once on the way back.
“Every time you breathe, it adds time, so I just make sure I have a specific spot where I know when I’m going to breathe.”
As far as the 100-yard freestyle is concerned, Peterson trimmed a full 1.5 seconds off of her race in sectionals after she finished in 54.21 seconds. That’s just a sign of the taper working and to make the podium in the 100-yard freestyle, she’ll likely need to trim another 1.5 seconds.
“I feel like if I focus on my race and not worrying about any other people swimming I should be fine,” Peterson said. “They’re going to push me to go faster, but I just need to do what I’ve been doing all year and make sure that everything is perfect with my technique.”
Whippets to compete in six events
Whitewater advanced its 200-yard medley relay and 200-yard freestyle relay to state. Those relay teams consisted of juniors Ella Houwers and Amber Krebs as well as freshman Grace Foucault and senior Brianna Zimdars.
Houwers qualified as an individual in the 200-yard individual medley and the 100-yard breaststroke. Houwers heads into the state meet as the defending state champion in the 100-yard breaststroke. She placed third last season in the 200-yard individual medley.
Zimdars qualified in the 100-yard butterfly and the 500-yard freestyle.