This being her senior year, Minnetonka swimmer Amelia Schilling has made a habit of being at her best when her team needs her.

Schilling, a team captain and distance specialist, won the 200-yard freestyle in a time of 1 minute, 51.74 seconds, finished second in the 500 freestyle (to one of her best friends, Kira Zubar of Eden Prairie) and swam the second leg on the winning 400 free relay team, helping the Skippers to the championship of the True Team Class 2A state meet Saturday at the University of Minnesota.

"She's a captain and one of the leaders of this team," coach Dan Berve said. "Whenever we've needed a big performance this season, she's stepped up and done great."

Staff writer Jim Paulsen spoke with Schilling about Minnetonka's big victory and her love for chlorinated water.

Q How important do you feel the victory in the True Team meet was?

A It was a big win for us. We knew there would be tough competition with teams like Stillwater and Eden Prairie, and Edina and Wayzata. It's a big confidence builder going into the final weeks of the season.

Q What was the key?

A It was having the third and fourth swimmers in each race place as highly as they did. The same with our "C" and "D" relays. They went out and gave it everything they had.

Q The True Team concept is all about the team strength. Everyone contributes. How fulfilling is that?

A It's a great feeling knowing that all of the hard work that everyone has put in has paid off. It makes us all see that everyone is a part of the team.

Q Does it feel like a state championship?

A It definitely feels good to win it. But I think it would feel even better to win the [MSHSL] state championship.

Q How do you feel about how you performed?

A I had a pretty good meet. I had a season best in every race and a personal best in the 200 freestyle. I was a little surprised about that.

Q Why?

A I'm a true distance swimmer. For me, the 200 is more of a sprint. I was shocked by my time. I beat my previous best by a full second.

Q So you prefer the 500-yard freestyle?

A Yes. In club swimming, I go even longer races, like the 1,000 and the mile. I just have the endurance for it.

Q Do you ever get bored swimming that far?

A No. I actually get excited to do it. I just do little things like check the clock when I breathe.

Q Why swimming?

A I just love the water. When I was little, we lived in California and we had a pool. I remember always wanting to be in the water, jumping off and diving in.

Q What is the worst part of being a competitive swimmer?

A Saturday morning practices. You have to come in after being out with your friends on Friday night, wake up bright and early and jump into a cold pool.

Q Is there a secret for getting into a cold pool?

A Go for it. It's like ripping off a band-aid -- just jump right in.