Making Every Lap Count

Swimmer places sixth at UIL State competition


Emma Mann

Senior Samuel Wittmer dives off the block for the 50 freestyle at the 2021 UIL State competition.

Allie Leatherman, Editor-In-Chief

Senior Samuel Wittmer dives off the block the moment the starting gun sounds. His only focus is making the next stroke count. Maximizing his speed is the only thing that matters right now.

Wittmer placed sixth at the UIL 6A State swim for 50 yard freestyle on February 26. He has qualified for State in previous years, but this is the highest he’s ever placed.

“With [Wittmer]’s background as an athlete, I knew he would place better this year compared to last year,” Coach James Sharp said. “He trained harder, smarter and was in a different mindset that prepared him to place higher at this year’s state meet.”

Wittmer also competed in the 100 freestyle, 100 butterfly, 100 backstroke and 100 breaststroke throughout the season. He has been swimming for 13 years, and has been on the Klein Collins Varsity swim team for four.

“Practices haven’t been that different because of Covid besides wearing masks when we’re out of the water,” junior Vincent Garza, a Varsity swimmer, said. “Our swimming competitions on the other hand have been very different- our district’s meet was split up by gender instead of everyone swimming on the same day. I don’t know if that’s ever been done before.”

Wittmer stated that he was unsure if he would make State this year because of the number of qualifiers being shortened due to Covid-19. The entire competition was also extended this year, spanning four days in total in an effort to reduce the spread of Covid-19.

“A lot goes through my mind before a race,” Wittmer said. “The ultimate goal is to shut out all of the negative thoughts, but by the time I get on the block, nothing else matters. The only thing I’m thinking about from the time I enter the water to the time I touch the wall is how I’m going to do it first.”

Wittmer recently committed to the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio. He hopes to become a professional swimmer through the Division 1 program.

“I have known [Wittmer] for a really long time- since I was about 11 or 12 years old,” Garza said. “He is such a hard worker and has been performing strong all season, so I had no doubt he would make State.”

As well as placing at State, Wittmer also set a new personal best for his 50 freestyle.

“Since [Wittmer] joined the varsity team his freshmen year, he was always a mature athlete,” Sharp said. “He always had a goal and set a plan to reach it. But what has changed the most is his mindset. In the past he would overthink his stroke or training. This year, after speaking to different club coaches and even an Olympic swimmer, he was able to focus on certain parts of his race which, I believe, helped him swim his best 50 yard freestyle time (20.89) and place sixth at State.”

Wittmer is currently training to qualify for the Olympic Trials in Omaha, Nebraska this summer. The Olympic Trials are held before the Olympics to select members of the US Olympic Swimming Team.

“Making state is a pretty big milestone for a swimmer,” Wittmer said. “It was fun and exciting, but my performance was what set me apart. This experience made me more confident in my abilities and will give me better structure to work from.”