Junior Ashley Rega set a new standard for the Independence swim team.
Rega finished sixth in the 50 yard freestyle at the 2015 Northeast District Meet at Cleveland State University last weekend to become the first Independence swimmer in school history to qualify for the state meet.
“I’m really excited,” Rega said. “It’s really cool that I’m the first one but I’m super excited I just made it.”
Rega, who won the Akron Division II sectional with a time of 24.96, finished the race in 24.56, just over a half second behind the first place swimmer.
“I was really nervous,” she said. “I was seeded so high so I really wanted to keep that spot. Once I hit the water I felt great. I had a lot of fun with it. When I finished I was happy with my time because I dropped from sectionals. I was happy with the race.”
She enters the state meet, which begins on Wednesday with the diving competition, as the 16th seed. She’ll need to maintain that spot or finish higher in Thursday’s preliminary race to advance to Friday’s finals.
“My ultimate goal is to hopefully make the finals so I get another chance to come back and swim the event on Friday,” she said. “That’s the top 16 and right now I’m placed 16th so if I stay there I can hopefully go. Just to go faster is my ultimate goal too.”
Rega also swam in the 100 Butterfly and 200 Medley and 200 Freestyle relays.
She was seventh in the 100 fly with a time of 1:00.17 and helped the 200 freestyle relay set a new school record with a time of 1:48.05.
“I swam fly in the medley and had a faster time than I did at sectionals, which was exciting, and I dropped a little bit on my 100 fly too but I didn’t go as fast as I wanted to,” she said. “In the 200 free relay I went faster in my split. I was last and went faster than I did individually and we also broke the school record.”
Ellie Clymer, Holly Stralka and Marissa Artrip also were part of that school record relay team.
Rega, who began swimming when she was six years old, has developed a passion for the sport. She competes on several different USA Swim teams and has been inspired competitively by her teammates.
She’s hoping to have the same effect on her Independence teammates.
“All of my friends on these competitive teams I’m on help push me because they’re all super-fast too so that helps me. They make me want to do better,” she said. “I hope I inspire my (Independence) teammates more. I really hope more people next year come out and decide to swim, especially some freshmen. All my friends have been really supportive and have encouraged me throughout the season to work hard. They’re part of the whole reason I am where I am now.”