ENID, Okla. —
By Bruce Campbell
Enid’s Sara Nazari and Hunter McEachern will be chasing history today and Saturday at the Class 6A swimming championships at Jenks.
Besides challenging the state’s best, the two will be taking on the two biggest names in EHS swim history — Autry and Stevens.
Nazari is looking to break Amanda Autry’s school record in the 200-yard individual medley (2:09.10) that has stood since 1985.
She came within .12 of a second of the mark in finishing second at state last year and three-tenths of a second in winning it as a freshman.
“I really want to break it,’’ Nazari said. “Hopefully, I can get it. It would be so awesome to look at the record board and see my name by itself.’’
McEachern is trying to break Andrea Stevens’ 50-yard free record (24.01) that has stood since 1999.
McEachern had a 25.45 in winning the event as a freshman and a 24.64 last year as a sophomore.
“I want to go under 24 seconds,’’ McEachern said. “The records do give us inspiration. We see Amanda Stevens (Andrea’s sister who holds two records) swam at Chesapeake (their club team in Oklahoma City). We see her records and we start thinking maybe we can break them and accomplish our goals.’’
Amanda Stevens taught Nazari how to swim at the YMCA along with Kathi Black.
McEachern and Nazari’s legacies are firmly in place, regardless of this weekend. They are on three school-record relay teams — the 400 free with Rebekah Pauly and Whitney Livesay, the 200 free and 200 medley with Meagan Holthoff and Livesay.
They have two golds in the 400 free relay and a gold and a second in the 200 medley relays.
Nazari was second in state in the 500 free as a sophomore, and the 100 butterlfy as a freshman. McEachern had a fifth in the 100 free as a sophomore and a second in the 100 free as a freshman.
“They’re awesome,’’ said Enid coach Ginny Shipley. “I would say they are among the top 10 swimmers in the state.’’
The duo competed for Chesapeake in regional and national meets, but nothing is like the state meet.
“It’s like a college football championship game,’’ McEachern said. “The best of the best (are) there. You know you have a better chance of winning and being on top.’’
“It’s crazy,’’ Nazari said.
They get into rituals such as painting their nails pink together.
For the first time in their careers, there was a pep assembly for the state swim meet.
“That was definitely awesome,’’ Nazari said. “We always wanted to be recognized.’’
Nazari comes into the meet ranked No. 4 in both the 200 IM and 100 back. McEachern is ranked second in the 50 free and fifth in the 100 breast. Nazari, McEachern, Whitney Livesay and Ashley Valdez are ranked fourth in the 200 medley relay and fifth in the 200 free.
“We’ll break the medley record (1:58.44) for sure,’’ Nazari said. “It’s going to be a tough meet, but I have my teammates behind me.’’
“I’m excited,’’ McEachern said. “I want to push hard and see how well I do. I know we have worked hard. I’ve been tapering and it shows.’’
Nazari goes into the meet a little hungrier than she has been in the past. A back injury sidelined her for almost a month. She said she’s 100 percent.
“It was a long and hard time without swimming,’’ Nazari said. “I probably needed the first week because I was tired, but after that it was awful. I love swimming so much ... the first practice back was really hard because I was out of shape, but I’m back and ready now.’’
Nazari and McEachern fit in well with the team, although they aren’t at all the practices because of their workouts with Chesapeake (where they go to Oklahoma City for practices).
Nazari said she and McEachern “eat and sleep swimming.’’ Both love the sport enough to make the sacrifices necessary of elite swimmers.
“There’s little time for friends,’’ Nazari said. “Luckily, our friends swim, too. We are with the people that we love.’’
“We have each other,’’ McEachern said. “If one of us is down, we have someone else we can talk to who understands the situation and can help make it go away.’’
“We have had some good long talks in the car,’’ Nazari said.
Both singled out their families for support and the sacrifices they have made.
“Our families have been with us the whole time,’’ Nazari said.
The kinship with the swim community is felt at the state meet.
Nazari said “being on top of the podium (as a freshman) was awesome.’’
McEachern, on her win in the 50 free as a freshman said, “it was the most awesome feeling.... it didn’t feel real.’’
Yet, the two were able to handle the disappointment of not repeating as sophomores in their individual events.
“We know all of those people,’’ Nazari said. “We race against them in club. They worked hard and they (the winners) deserve it. I was a little upset, but I was OK.’’
“I was disappointed,’’ McEachern said, “but it just wasn’t meant to be that year. Hopefully, this will be our year.’’
Neither feels pressure for the weekend.
“I’m more excited than anything else,’’ McEachern said. We have a lot of support from our teammates and the school. I just love the competition of swimming. It’s just fun.’’
“It’s so fun,’’ Nazari said. “I just love being in the water. It’s the only thing I’m interested in.’’