ST. MARYS — Molly Menker has spent the better part of her life so far in the water.
This will be the Memorial High School senior’s 14th year swimming on various teams, including the YMCA and the Roughrider swim teams. It was something her parents threw her into and that she grew to love quickly.
“I just started out with swim lessons and the summer swim team when I was little, and it just really clicked and I liked it a lot, so my parents put me into the Y swim team in the winter when I was 7,” Menker said.
The fact that she could have her own individual goals to shoot for while still being a member of a team was appealing to her. As it was something that did not come easy to Menker, she pushed herself to improve at a young age. Only the best swimmers on the YMCA team were invited to attend the bigger meets at the end of the season, and Menker always strived to be one of them.
“You really push to find your spot on the relays and things like that,” she said. “I had to work really hard to get what I wanted.”
With three hours of practice time every day during the winters, it was something that could easily become exhausting for anyone. But the excitement of all the meets and competitions at the end of the season always kept Menker going strong.
Her hard work has paid off every year she has swam with the Roughriders.
She placed sixth in the district the past two years and won sectionals in her event, the 200 freestyle, all three years of high school. Menker also holds the school record in the event.
Her junior year, she placed second in the WBL.
Menker is always looking for ways to improve, and concentrates on the little stuff — getting a faster turn or a stronger finish. Sometimes, her parents or coach will record her races and she will watch the footage to see what she can do to get better.
Her most exciting race so far came this past season during sectionals when she beat the swimmer ranked directly above her. This girl, Menker said, had been her toughest competition in the WBL in her event, and she was determined to beat her. The race was close the entire time, Menker said, and she could feel how well she was doing. At the end, she found out she beat the swimmer by less than a second.
“Once I knew that I beat her ... it was really just, relief, kind of, because I knew that … I had a good race and I did the best I could,” she said.
Although Menker has “just missed” making it to the state competition the past two seasons, she said she has no complaints with her performance. However, it is definitely the swimmer’s main goal for herself this — her last — season.
“If I get it, that’s awesome, but if not, I’m still going to have a good season and have fun with it,” Menker said.