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Shaffer, Cooper swim into State

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Slicer swimmers Rebekah Shaffer and Caiya Cooper had a season to remember, qualifying for a spot at State.

Shaffer, senior, competed at State in the 100 yard butterfly for the second year in a row. She describes going to state again this year as the “cherry on top.” Last year, Shaffer was seeded 27th and placed 25th at the 2021 IHSAA Girls Swimming State competition. This year, Shaffer was seeded 23 and placed 17th with a time of 57.52.

Shaffer started swimming when she was young after she saw her brother swim and thought it looked fun. Water has always interested her, and playing and being in it was a integral part of her life. She has been swimming for roughly 11 years- either with the LPHS girls swim team or Irish Aquatics Swim Club.

I think the people in the teams and the coaches have kept me coming back. Everyone on LP has really become family to me, and same with Irish,” Shaffer said.

Shaffer has enjoyed her swim career here at LPHS, but her senior year has been especially memorable. 

My favorite part of swim season was watching all of the girls come together and become a team. I think this year was one of the best team connections we have had in my years of being at LPHS,” Shaffer said.

This year, Shaffer made some changes in her dedication to swim in both the weight room and in the pool.

“I mainly tried to focus on my lifting more this year and trying to improve the weight I was doing in order to become stronger in my swimming. I also made sure to try and go on the faster intervals during practice, and I tried to not miss many practices this year,” Shaffer said. 

Shaffer has many pre-meet rituals. Some of her main ones include not just time to herself but also time getting pumped up with her teammates.

One thing I do before mostly every meet is I like to watch old videos of me swimming. It helps my mind get into that race mentality. I also have to do the same stretch routine behind the blocks or before I swim any event. I also like doing a pre-meet jam session with Callie, Chloe and Dani to ‘Fall of Jake Paul,’” Shaffer said.

This swim season has been undeniably successful for Shaffer. Not only has she made State for the second year in a row, but she has also swam some of her fastest time, winning most of her races.

“Prior to me making State, my season was good and confident boosting. I only lost two individual races this year during the regular season, which is very impressive to me, and I also became the life of the team and loved spending time at practice with everyone,” Shaffer said 

Shaffer’s life doesn’t just consist of being at the pool and weight room. Although the pool has become a second home and the team has become a second family, she also enjoys her time relaxing and recovering.

“Outside of swimming, I enjoy spending time with my friends, but I mainly try and relax at home since I don’t get much of a life outside of swimming,” Shaffer said.

Shaffer will be continuing her academic and swim career at Indiana State University in the fall of 2022.

Although this was Shaffer’s second year qualifying for State, this was the first year for junior Cooper.

Cooper swam the 500 yard freestyle. She was seeded 16th and swam a 5:11:51.

Cooper started swimming when she was just five years old and has continued to thrive every year since. Her love for the water has always been a part of her life.

I got into swimming because I live on the water, and my dad and brother swam in high school. I have loved the water since I was young,” Cooper said.

One of her goals for this season was to get in the top 16, which she accomplished.

This season, Coach Brahim Hakim knew that Cooper was poised successful enough to make it to State and drop time.

“I had Caiya train immensely of middle distance sets (200s) on short rest to build endurance. Her technique and hard work are her biggest assets,” Hakim said.

Cooper has enjoyed this season immensely, not only because of the growth she has made in swimming but also the friendships she has made with incoming swimmers. She has also strengthened the relationships with older swimmers.

“Getting closer to the freshmen who came up and just understanding and getting closer with my team this year. It was really an enjoyable time for me, and I’m going to miss the seniors next year,” Cooper said.

Cooper has been devoted to the sport of swim and has continued to come back every season either in the LPHS swim season or the Turbos off season during the summer.

“I know I can never leave the sport. I love it. Really, the dedication I have to this sport and the times I want and the goals I have. keep me coming back,” Cooper said.

Cooper made changes in her swimming this year in order to enhance her skills and improve from her times last year.

“The things I did differently this swim season was going to more morning practices and working harder with the people in my lane during afternoon practice,” Cooper said.

Through the past three years, both Shaffer and Cooper have broken two LPHS girls’ swim records. The two of them, as well as other swimmers on the team, have broken both the 200 freestyle relay and the 200 medley relay.

Shaffer and Cooper have shown their hard work and dedication to their sport by representing LPHS at State. Both are shining examples of Slicer excellence.

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