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CLASS A SWIMMING: ‘Something I will always cherish’

Marshall’s Nyssa Bentz, Amelie Schmidtke finish strong in final races

Photo by Sam Thiel Marshall’s Amelie Schmidtke and Nyssa Bentz pose for a photo after competing in the Class A finals on Saturday at the University of Minnesota.

MINNEAPOLIS – When Nyssa Bentz and Amelie Schmidtke entered the pool on Saturday, they knew it was going to be a bittersweet day. Both Tiger swimmers were competing for one final time and knew they had to put it all on the line in order to come away with a strong finish.

Bentz and Schmidtke did just that, moving up multiple spots and shaving down their times in the Class A finals at the Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center.

Bentz said she tried to soak it all in during the meet and added it’s a great feeling to end her career amongst the state’s best.

“Like I said before, I just wanted to have the whole day and have fun and a good meet and enjoy the time here because going to state is a great time and it’s such a great opportunity to have to be able to come here and swim with these amazing ladies,” Bentz said. “It’s really cool.”

Schmidtke said she replayed moments of her career and was happy to see it come to a close at the state meet.

“Before I started, I went through a timeline of my whole swim career and all that I’ve done with my coach and my team,” Schmidtke said. “It was an amazing time and I was very happy.”

Bentz got things started in the 50-yard freestyle, looking to improve on her seventh-place finish from a season ago. She was not only able to earn a higher finish by taking second, but also shave her time from 2018 (23.99) by nearly a half-second (23.54). The time was good enough for All-American consideration. Hutchinson’s Grace Hanson took first with a time of 22.79.

Bentz said when she turned around and saw her result, she was extremely happy.

“It was pure joy, I guess,” Bentz said. “It was a good race. When I finished, I just thought I did well and I was happy with myself, which is always what I want.”

Bentz later competed in the 100-yard freestyle, where she would earn a fifth-place finish with a time of 52.34 seconds. Hanson took first with a time of 49.83, followed by Benilde St. Margaret’s Taylor Williams (50.79), Julia Bartell of Waconia (51.83) and Visitation’s Ava Hoffman (51.94).

Bentz added while she stayed calm during Friday’s prelims, she acknowledged that she was able to use her nerves to her advantage throughout both of her events on Saturday.

“I think using my nerves to my advantage,” Bentz said. “Sometimes when you come to a swim meet and you let your nerves get the better of you, then you just have a bad day. I think being nervous and having adrenaline and swimming fast really helps.”

In her lone event of the day, Schmidtke competed in the 100-yard butterfly consolation heat and would take seventh in the heat and 15th overall with a time of 1:00.16.

“My heat was very strong,” Schmidtke said. “I tried my best to beat the girl next to me and I did that so I think it was a good race.”

Marshall coach Nikki Bell said she was pleased with both of her swimmers’ ability to get out to faster starts and achieve some of the goals they set out for.

“I was pleased to see that Nyssa was able to go faster and Amelie went out really fast in her fly and I was really proud of her that she was able to move up a spot, which was one of her goals. They went for it and I’m happy with that; I think it might be easy to get complacent at this point and they didn’t, they got out and raced really well,” Bell said. “For Nyssa, it was warmer here and it stayed warmer and kind of controlled those aspects and that helped for her 50, which was really exciting because she was able to beat a record one more time and then to be able to come back and be faster in the 100. And just for our section, the Top 3 in the 50 were from Section 3A, which speaks a lot about how hard it is to get out of our section and how great our kids are overall, so that was fun to have that camaraderie from the other teams and have all of those sections cheering for each other. For Amelie, it is emotional and I can’t imagine but for both of them, we’re going to miss them and it’s going to be a very different team without them.”

‘All I have to say

is thank you’

Over the past few years, Bentz has shown a lot of growth in between the lane dividers. She was able to qualify for her state meet during her freshman year, competing in the 100-yard freestyle where she took third. The next two seasons saw her make repeat trips to the state meet and be able to improve on her times while also competing in multiple events.

Bentz said it was worth it to see all of the hard work she put in pay off and is grateful for her coaches who helped push her every day.

“My time with the Marshall High School swim team is something I will always cherish. Swimming and I have a bittersweet relationship; you go through a lot of pain and a lot of tears and sweat and you work hard and it’s all worth it in the end because you go to a meet like this and you see everything pay off,” Bentz said. “My coaches, all I have to say is thank you because they have helped me through this time that I’ve been with the team and I am extremely grateful. They’re amazing people to work with and to be able to have that relationship with.”

Bentz added she’s going to miss her teammates a lot and said she’ll cherish the memories she was able to make.

“Definitely my team. The ladies that I train with, I’ve trained with for the last five years and I’ve made some incredible relationships with them and I couldn’t be more grateful for them,” Bentz said. “They’re all amazing people and they each have something special about them that I always enjoy, from the swim meets to the bus rides and just hanging out with them, I’ll cherish it always.”

‘I’m very glad to have had this experience’

Schmidtke’s journey was a much more different approach. Originally from Berlin, Germany, she joined the Tigers as part of a foreign exchange program. Schmidtke said it was an amazing experience and she was very glad to be surrounded by fantastic coaches and teammates.

“The experience was amazing,” Schmidtke said. “The coach and the team, it was very different than in Germany and I’m really thankful to have such an amazing team and coach and I’m very glad to have had this experience.”

Schmidtke added there are some big differences between swimming in Germany and the U.S.

“I think the biggest difference is the team spirit; in America, the team spirit is amazing with the whole team and the cheering, it’s amazing,” Schmidtke said. “The competition, some of the rules and system is a little different but mostly it’s the same.”

Schmidtke also thanked her host family, the Larson’s, for welcoming her into their home and she’ll miss the sport and the team a lot.

“I just want to say thank you to my host family. Without them, I wouldn’t be here today and they supported me so well and I just want to say thank you,” Schmidtke said. “I’ll miss the swimming and getting up super early in the morning and going to the pool and jump into the cold water. I’ll also miss the team but I think I can stay in contact with a lot of my friends here.”

Season looks bright

While the Tigers will graduate just two seniors, Marshall brings back a strong core of athletes. Going into next year, Bell said they’ll look to the younger athletes to step into new roles and continue to grow as leaders as well as building their numbers as a program.

“I think some of them just really need to believe in themselves and know that it’s okay for them to step up and be faster. Getting Hailey Brandt back from injury and then trying to really grow, that’s what we’re looking for as far as our leadership,” Bell said. “Next year is making sure we’re reaching out to those club swimmers and we’re bringing in new people and continuing to grow, build our numbers and encourage those sophomores to step up and those juniors to know it’s okay for them to be the fast kids and slide over and take those leadership spots.”

As for advice for her fellow teammates, Bentz said to continue to work hard and maintain that same drive and passion that she saw from her team throughout the season.

“Just to keep working hard. A lot of these girls they all deserve to be here because they work so hard,” Bentz said. “Being a captain this past year, I could see that they all worked really hard and every year I see them coming back with the same smiles on their faces and the same drive to work really hard.”

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