Funny how different that things can seem with a year of perspective.
Last year at this time, Chanhassen swimmer Kaia Grobe, then a freshman, was anticipating her third season as a varsity swimmer. A lifelong competitive swimmer -- her mother Joy is the Storm's diving coach -- Grobe simply was hoping to improve and perhaps qualify for the state meet.
She did, and then some. Grobe proved to be the state's fast sprinter, winning the 50- and 100-yard freestyle events at the Class 2A state meet.
"I didn't realize that winning was an opportunity," said Grobe, whose offseason club team, AquaJets, also is the home of Olympian Rachel Bootsma. "I thought I was a good swimmer but not a state champ. It's actually changed my perspective."
Staff writer Jim Paulsen talked with Grobe about expectations, goals and what she would change about swimming if she could.
Q As a two-event state champion, do feel any pressure this year?
A It definitely feels like I'm being hunted. It's a good-and-bad thing. It motivates me to work hard so I can defend my titles. There are a lot of good swimmers out there who can beat me.
Q With your mother as a coach and your sister Bridgette on also on the team, how important is high school swimming to you?
A It's very important. Club swimming is fun, too, but high school has so much more of a neighborhood feel. You get to represent your school. And with my mom and sister, I feel very comfortable there. The pool is like my second home.
Q You've swam on relays with Bootsma in club meets. What's it like to compete with her?
A I don't look at her as a famous person. She's a friend. It's a lot different than looking up to someone like Missy Franklin. I can go and talk to Rachel and ask her questions.
Q What effect does Rachel's success have on you?
A A few months before the Olympics, I was at the Nationals and I just missed the cut to make the Olympic Trials. I was kind of upset, but now I'm using that as motivation. Seeing how hard Rachel works, not skipping a workout or skipping a set, it motivates me. It makes my goal of swimming for the Olympics more real to me.
Q You're obviously a great sprinter. What's one stroke you'd like to do better?
A I want to be really good in the 100 butterfly. I think the fly is a beautiful stroke. I'd like to be able to finish the 100 fly without being out of breath.
Q If you suddenly couldn't swim, what would you miss the most?
A I would miss the water. Ever since I was a little girl, my mom would drag me to the pool. I fell in love with the feel of the water. I don't know what I'd do if I couldn't swim anymore.
Q Your favorite thing about swimming?
A Being on a relay team that is real close to reaching a goal and then getting it. That means a lot, to celebrate with your teammates.
Q What is one thing you'd change about swimming?
A The fast suits we wear at meets. It can take 20 minutes to get those things on! And then you can't take it off for the entire meet. Why can't we just wear our regular suits and use those times?