Kara Noftsker compares swimming to gardening, and somehow it all makes perfect sense.
Her mom is a gardener, and it just hit Kara one day that they have similar traits.
Her mom has to do the heavy lifting and all the little things, just to make things right. Just like an athlete.
“Once you garden, you can look at all the work you’ve done and say, ‘I finished that.’ It’s kind of the same in swimming,” Noftsker said. “Once I get a really good time, I can say, ‘Hey, I did that. That’s me. That’s no one else but me.’ ”
Noftsker did get a great time last month at the Class 2A state championship meet, and the junior from Columbia River had a strong finish to the high school season. Noftsker ended up in second place in the 200-yard freestyle, the 100 freestyle and she helped her team to two top-five finishes in relay races. The Chieftains also finished sixth in the team points.
For all that she accomplished, Kara Noftsker is The Columbian’s All-Region girls swimmer of the year.
She is most proud of her 200 free finish. Expectations were not so high, not after having about less than 10 minutes to recover from swimming in the 200 medley relay just before the 200 free.
“I was still shaking a little bit. I was really tired,” Noftsker said.
But then it hit her that she cannot do anything about the state meet schedule. She just had to power through it.
“I can’t give up,” she said to herself just before the race.
“That’s all I remember. I finished. I looked up at the clock, and I was just so happy with the time,” Noftsker said. “I just wanted to do the best that I could, and I was hoping to push myself to the next level.”
Noftsker finished in 1 minute, 54.64 seconds.
“I’d like to break Monica Bottelberghe’s time,” Noftsker said, referring to one of the best swimmers in Southwest Washington history and a former Chieftain. “I’d like to break one school record before I leave. I’m only two seconds off.”
She certainly has the right attitude to achieve that goal. She values all of her time in training.
“Swimming always make everything better,” Noftsker said. “I don’t really know how to explain it. You get the benefits of knowing you just finished a set, you’re getting stronger every day, so you do the practices even if you don’t want to do them. It’s like gardening. It’s a happy, good feeling.”
So, too, is helping the team get better. The Chieftains finished sixth, a year after finishing 25th at the 3A meet. They also have a number of athletes returning in 2017, plus they expect some incoming freshman to bring more talent to the pool.
“We’re always excited for the next high school season,” Noftsker said. “I think it will be even better next year.”
Noftsker and the Chieftains hope to keep working hard, completing the difficult challenges and performing the little tasks, too, all in an effort to enjoy the fruits of their labor.
The Rest of the All-Region Team
Sydney Boyle, Columbia River
Freshman placed fifth at the 2A state meet in the 200 individual medley, sixth in 100 breaststroke.
Hailey Grotte, La Center
Freshman placed fifth at the 2A state meet in the 100 freestyle and seventh in the 100 breaststroke.
Sruthi Ravi, Mountain View
Sophomore placed sixth in Class 3A state meet in 100 backstroke, qualified for 100 freestyle
Bailey Segall, Camas
Freshman placed sixth at the 4A state meet in the 500 freestyle and was part of 200 free relay.
Makena Wilcox, Columbia River
Junior placed fifth in the Class 2A state meet in 50 freestyle and eighth in the 100 butterfly.
Colleen Woods, Heritage
Senior placed seventh at the 4A state meet in the 100 butterfly and 11th in the 50 freestyle.