Athlete of the Week: Sami Smejkal

Clintonville senior swimming towards state

Contributed photo Clintonville senior Sami Smejkal recently broke the school record in the 100-yard butterfly while competing at the Bay Conference Championship Meet on Oct. 25.

Athlete: Sami Smejkal

Sport: Swimming

Events: 200 individual medley, 100 butterfly

School: Clintonville High School

Year: Senior

With the fall season winding down, local girls swimmers are doing their best to keep their seasons alive. Posting personal records are what the athletes are striving for so anything else is just icing on the cake.

Clintonville senior Sami Smejkal seems to be peaking at just the right point after breaking the school record in the 100-yard butterfly at the Bay Conference Championship Meet on Oct. 25. She also placed second in the 200 IM. Smejkal will try to earn a trip to state when competing in the Division 2 Ashwaubenon Sectional on Saturday.

Q: When did your interest in swimming begin?

A: My mother tells me that I loved being in water ever since I was a baby, which makes sense because I grew up on a lake. My love for competition swimming began when I was 6 years old, joining the Clintonville Area Swim Team, and grew as I went through high school.

Q: What is your favorite part about a swim meet or the swim season?

A: My favorite part about the swim season is seeing myself and my teammates improve over the course of the season. I love supporting my teammates during the meets by giving them encouraging pep-talks, cheering for them as they’re racing, congratulating them when they do good and comforting them when they didn’t do so good.

Q: Talk about what it would mean to you to qualify for state as a senior?

A: To qualify for state as a senior would mean the whole world to me. I have worked so hard throughout high school swimming and I really hope it pays off. The last time I was at a state swimming competition was when I was 12 years old, and it was a really exciting experience for me.

Q: You recently broke a school record at the conference meet. Talk about how satisfying that was for you.

A: The record I broke was in the 100 fly, which has been my event all throughout high school. I first broke the school record for this event as a sophomore with a time of 1:05.10. Last year, that record got beat by Allison Graper, who finished the race with a time of 1:03.75. When I finished my race at the conference meet this year, not only was I happy that I won the conference title, I was super excited when I saw my finishing time of a 1:02.56. I think I actually yelled “I just broke the record,” when I saw my time. I did not feel tired after that race because I was so excited.

Q: How did you get ready for swim season?

A: The swim season started in August, so over the summer I tried to get in the pool whenever I was not busy. I also did some weight lifting to build up muscle in my legs and shoulders.

Q: With such a small team at Clintonville, how do you push yourself at practice?

A: With such a small team, it is hard to push myself at practice because I don’t really have anyone that I can swim next to that is at my speed or a little faster than my speed. To make up for this, I always try to swim at my maximum speed, and I’ll go until I can’t breathe or until my arms and legs don’t want to move anymore.

Q: What’s your favorite memory of competing on the Clintonville swim team?

A: I have a couple of favorite memories of being on this team. When we had a big team, we would have a camp sort of weekend called Camp Roasted Weenies, where we would sleep in tents in our friend Natalie Walker’s backyard and do a whole bunch of team bonding games and activities. Those weekends were always super fun. My other favorite memory was when we had a dual meet against Wittenberg and we did our team cheers in the pool, and instead of clapping along with the cheers, we splashed in the water. I remember us feeling super happy and pumped for the meet after that moment.

Q: Do you have any rituals you go through before a swim meet?

A: Of course, I have my pre-meet rituals. These include listening to upbeat and loud music on the way to the meets, putting and keeping myself in a positive state of mind, and getting a very good night’s sleep beforehand. I also have a bad habit of not eating a lot on the day of the meet, but I’m not exactly sure if that is a ritual or not.

Q: What is your favorite thing to do when you are not in school or competing in a high school sport?

A: My favorite things to do outside of school and sports are sleeping, playing with my dog, hanging out with my friends and my sister, being outside as much as I can, and listening to music and dancing around my house.

Q: Favorite TV show, movie, musical artist?

A: “Family Guy” and/or “SpongeBob SquarePants.” “Grown Ups.” I listen to a very wide variety of music, so it is hard for me to pick a favorite. I like a lot of different artists.

Q: Name one thing about yourself that not many people know.

A: A lot of people don’t know that I am really not a fan of soda. I don’t like most sodas because the carbonation makes it feel like the back of my throat is burning. I like to say that soda is “spicy,” because it feels like it is actually spicy.

Q: What’s the greatest piece of advice someone has ever said to you?

A: I think the best advice I’ve ever received is to be the bigger person and to own up to your mistakes. If something bad happens, or if something is left undone, take the blame for it or finish what was left undone, because nothing is going to be solved if you sit there and point fingers at other people.

Q: Do you have a favorite quote, verse or lyrics from a song?

A: I guess my favorite quote would be something that my grandma tells me all the time: “You can only be young once, but you can be immature forever.”