“I was always told, you’re supposed to do the first 50 meters at this speed and so on, but that just doesn’t work for me,” she said. “So I’ve just gone as fast as I can.
“I guess I just leave it all in the pool,” she added. “You never have an instance where you think to yourself, ‘I wish I would have swam faster in that 50 meters,’ when I know I’m going as fast as I can.”
Apparently, Cotterall’s strategy is working just fine. At last Saturday’s Coastal Conference championship meet at the Spring Lake Aquatic Center, Cotterall broke both the pool and school record by touching the wall in a first-place time of 5 minutes, 25.96 seconds. That finish topped the record of former Lakers’ standout Aria Kieft, who is now a Spring Lake assistant coach.
“It was just disbelief,” Cotterall said of her feeling when she realized she broke the record. “I remember in the last 50 (meters) I saw the clock and it was still in the four-minute range, and I thought to myself, ‘holy cow, I might actually do this.’”
It was just one part of a banner day for the Lakers, as they won the league title for the third straight season. The Lakers’ Lydia Gleason also established a new record in the 100 breaststroke during the meet.
Seniors Cotterall, Gleason and junior Jaylen Adkins are the Lakers’ big three that are leading the team into Saturday’s Division 3 state finals, held at Oakland University. Spring Lake is hoping to improve significantly on its 23rd place finish from a year ago.
“They’re definitely prepared,” said Spring Lake first-year head coach Nikki Theune. “We have a good mix of talented freshmen and sophomores and seniors who have been there before. I feel we have a well-versed team. I have great expectations for them.”
Spring Lake has three relays qualified for the meet, as well as Cotterall in the 200- and 500-freestyle; Adkins in the 50- and 100-free; and Gleason in the 100 breaststroke.
Cotterall, who will also compete in the 200 medley and 400 freestyle relays, is keeping her state finals expectations modest.
“Getting past prelims and into the top 16 in my first goal,” she said, “especially since last year, I didn’t make the finals in any event. But it was my first time there, and it was pretty nerve-wracking.”
Cotterall’s fierce competitiveness in the sport is passed down from a family immersed in swimming. Her mother, Mary, keeps time at Lakers’ home meets, while her father, Mark, announces. But her biggest influence is her older brother, Sam, a former Lakers standout in the pool from 2005-2008.
“After every single one of my meets, I’ll either call him or text him what happened, or what the coaches are telling me. He gives me more advice,” Cotterall said.
Sam Cotterall, who attends Washington and Lee University in Virginia, surprised his sister by making the trip to see her compete in last year’s state finals and said he’ll try to do the same on Saturday.
If his younger sister’s all-or-nothing mindset in the 500 works magic one more time, it will be well worth the trip.
GH QUALIFIES PAIR OF RELAYS
Grand Haven’s varsity swimming team will field a pair of relays at Saturday’s Division 1 state finals at Eastern Michigan University.
Head coach Doug Thorne said he has six swimmers to choose from to compete in the 200- and 400-meter freestyle relays. Representing the Bucs will be senior Lydia Hoogerhyde, senior Carissa Winkler, senior Alyssia Land, junior Sarah Snider, freshman Stephanie Shantz, and freshman Mackenzie Landman.