Scratching the surface
by Matthew Ondesko, Managing Editor
Geoff Schneider/Sports Union
Everyone spends their summers different. Some will use their summer to hang at the beach after a very difficult academic year. Others may go on trips to Europe to recharge the battery before the next academic school.
For Buffalo Seminary swimmer Elle Noecker she used her summer to get better and chase a dream. Noecker competed, and won, the 100-meter breaststroke in Ohio, and also swam a U.S. Open qualifying time of 1 minute, 11.16 seconds.
“This summer has definitely been the most exciting so far in terms of competing, which says something because the long course season is always my favorite time of the year! My goal going into Futures was to place top eight, because my highest finish the year prior was ninth and top eight is the “A” final,” stated Noecker. “I knew that was a very realistic goal so I was not feeling too much pressure and more so just excitement and some confidence. Winning was definitely in the back of mind as a possibility so to end up finishing first was so rewarding knowing that my training was paying off. The race itself was fun to be in and I could not have asked for a much better swim overall.”
That was just the beginning of her excellent summer, after she left Ohio, Noecker traveled to California to take part in the Speedo Junior National Championships. The meet in Irvine, California was a chance for Noecker to test herself against some of the best swimmers in the country.
Noecker raced pretty well as she made it to the finals of the 200-meter individual medley, before finishing 21st with a time of 2:18.91. While the finish probably wasn’t what she wanted, it gave Noecker the extra motivation she needed. Going up against some of the best swimmers in the country, in her age group, Noecker saw what she needs to work on the high school season is already underway.
“Onto California, Summer Juniors was such an amazing experience and I knew going into it that time drops and finals were attainable. To be surrounded by some of the best swimmers in the country my age and be a part of it too was motivating and I believe contributed to the energy I was able to put into each race,” stated Noecker. “Finals in the 200 IM was an honor to be a part of, as I have never been to such a professionally run, high level competition, swimming in a field of athletes who inspire me.”
Noecker was coming off a high school that was up and down. A foot injury early in the season took Noecker out of the water for much of the season. She didn’t know if she was going to be able to be back for the All-Catholic at the end of the season.
If she was going to be able to take part in the All-Catholics, Noecker was going to have to do without a lot of time in the pool. She as cleared to jump back in a week before the tournament - which didn’t give her a lot of time to get ready, not including meet ready.
That didn’t really matter as Noecker shined in the pool. She did well at Atll-Catholic, which then set her off to states. By then Noecker was back to full strength - and training everyday.
“Last year, my school season was actually full of uncertainties due to a sudden foot injury that prevented me from participating in much of the duel meet season. I had only had about a week of normal, full practices before our championship meet, All Catholics,” stated Noecker. “I was really just excited to be back racing for All Catholics so I went in trying to be optimistic and the meet ended up going really well. States was an amazing experience and at that point I was feeling fully back into it and was so grateful to have recovered in time. Not only was I beyond excited to be the runner up in both of my events (200IM and 100 breasstroke), but one of the highlights of the meet was placing third overall with my teammates in the 200 medley relay. I was so grateful to share that experience with them and we all put forth such a strong effort to make it happen.”
With all the success Noecker has already, it’s easy to get ahead of yourself and think about what’s next. But, Noecker is all about living in the moment. She knows to be able to reach any goal she sets for herself in the pool, she has to live in the now.
She can’t worry about what’s going to happen in the future, and how she is going to get there. Noecker knows that if she just continues to keep doing what she’s doing things will fall into place for her.
“I always try to remind myself that living in the moment is so important because time is always going by.,” stated Noecke. “You don’t want to miss what is happening now by worrying about the next thing. I find that everything is more fun in general and less overbearing if taken step by step and appreciating the moment.”
Fun is something that Noecke is trying to do. It can be overwhelming at time always being in the pool, whether for practice or meets. Noecke spends a lot of time concentrating on swimming, but she loves to practice. To her that’s the most fun she has during the day.
Noecke does, however, understand that there needs to be a balance between sports and everyday life. Having a great balance between everything allows her to have her find in the right frame moving forward.
“Although I willingly choose swimming to take up the most significant portion of my life, I think that balance is also important. I go to a school where everyday I look forward to being there and that makes everything around it easier to navigate,” stated Noecker. “Swim practice is my favorite part of the day and it serves as both a time for self reflection and training for my goals in one which works out well! College recruitment is an exciting process but also complex, so I try to keep everything organized in that regard. I am an optimistic person and I am confident that everything will work out as it should if I stay focused and positive.”
Being positive has helped Noecker, especially when she was hurt last year, and when she has gone up against some of the best athletes in the country. Noecker is someone who is always trying to learn as much as possible.
It doesn’t matter how well she does in a meet, Noecke is always trying to take things from other swimmers to get better. She might see how they train leading up the even, or things they are doing in the pool, and trying to incorporate it in her own trainings.
“I am always trying to learn as much as possible from all sources, including swimmers I compete against to see what I can apply to my own strategy which I also have established,” stated Noecker. “During high level meets I mostly try to stick with what I know works for me while allowing the competitive energy from the other athletes to motivate me, just keeping my eyes forward and focusing on my own race. However, it is always fun to try something new that I observed and seeing if it works at practice or a smaller meet.”