Resetting her mindset has helped Lindsey Stalheim discover a new appreciation for her best event.
The Millard West senior finished fourth in the 100-yard backstroke at last year’s state meet, though her time wasn’t as fast as the year before when she landed on the list of Nebraska’s best.
In prelims at the 2014 state meet, Stalheim touched in 57.36. That put her 10th on The World-Herald’s all-time list, a mark that was equaled last season by Lincoln Southwest’s Emma Vertin.
As she prepares for her final Metro Conference meet, which begins Friday and concludes with Saturday’s 10 a.m. finals at Millard West, Stalheim said she’s looking forward to showing how far she’s come this season.
“It’s been a happier year because I’m more excited about the backstroke this season,” Stalheim said. “I have a renewed dedication to it, and my confidence is way up again about the event.”
The girls prelims begin at 9:30 a.m. Friday with the boys to follow at 1 p.m.
Stalheim is seeded second for the Metro meet behind Omaha Westside’s Elizabeth Amato-Hanner, and is sixth overall on the season leaders list at 59.34. Wildcats coach Tracy Stauffer said Stalheim’s work in the 200 backstroke the past year has made her 100 backstroke better.
“Her work ethic is her No. 1 ally,” Stauffer said. “She was a good backstroker when we got her, but she’s gotten so much better at both because she does pretty much everything we want her to do in every workout, no matter what we’re asking her to focus on that day.”
Stauffer said the 200 backstroke could be her best event in college. After a visit to Nebraska last weekend, Stalheim said she’s narrowed her finalists to NU, Drury and Northern Iowa.
Stalheim said she hopes to make her final choice before the Feb. 25 through 27 state meet at the Devaney Center. While there is still a decision to be made on the events Stalheim will swim at state, her second event at Metro will be the 100 freestyle.
That was Staheim’s second event at the 2015 state meet, and she finished eighth in 53.46 before her backstroke final. That time was 57.94, 0.58 seconds slower than her 2014 best.
It wasn’t the physical preparation that Stalheim said slowed her last season.
“I know I still put in all the effort,” Stalheim said. “I think it was one bad swim mentally that I don’t think I finished well. That race taught me a lot about myself.”
To improve technically, Stalheim has been working her starts and time under the water. Stauffer said the school record-holder has always been good on top of the water.
“That’s where she is very strong,” Stauffer said. “She’s good into the wall, her underwaters are decent but not great yet but on top of the water she is very strong.”
Focusing on the things she can control, Stalheim said, and not be concerned with what others are doing is something she will zero in on the final two weeks of the season.
“For me, I like to focus on my own time because that’s something I can control,” Stalheim said. “It’s all about getting ready for my races and getting my mind ready.
“I’m shooting for a goal time and, of course, a best time.”
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