Five questions with Sickles junior swimmer Katie Cook, arguably the county's top female sprinter. She placed fifth in the 50 free and 100 free at last year's Class 3A state meet.
You come from a swimming family — older sisters Amanda and Megan swam four years at Sickles. What was that like?
My mom put my sisters in swim lessons when they were little and I always saw them in the pool when I was little and I wanted to do it too. It was a way to bring us together our whole life.
Was it competitive?
There wasn't a lot. They both quit after their senior year, so they weren't swimming with me when I was older.
Did you expect to do as well as you did in states?
I was actually really surprised because the year before I was in 10th, but I managed to drop a lot of time. I know I was bummed that I wasn't making top eight (as a freshman), so I really pushed myself to make it last year. I started training a lot harder. Instead of just doing it for fun I got more focused.
What does it take to be a good sprinter?
Sometimes people take a while to get into their race. Sprinters have to get right up and do it when they dive in. It helps because I get out of blocks fast. In the 50 the swimming part's not as important. You have to have a fast start, an amazing turn.
Do you have time to think?
Not really. Right when you dive in, it's go. You don't have time to think, "In the middle I'm going to kick harder here." It's just the whole way through you have to be fast. You can't put that much thought into it. You have to go for it.
Five girls to watch
• Blair Kuethe, Jr., Wharton: Placed sixth in the 50 free (24.18) at last year's 3A state meet.
• Rebecca Werdine, So., Plant: Finished 13th in the 50 free and 100 free at last year's 2A meet.
• Kati Kyle, Sr., Newsome: Coming off a fourth-place state finish in the 100 back; also finished 10th in the 200 IM
• Hillary Hahmann, Sr., Plant: Finished 10th in the state in the 500 free and is a key cog to Panthers relays.
• Laura Jordan, Sr., Berkeley Prep: District champ in the 50 free and 100 fly, she is primed for a memorable senior year.
Five teams to watch
Holy Names: Sprinting talent Molly Sheridan sets into motion a Jaguars team trying for back-to-back district titles after moving to 2A.
Plant: The Panthers finished third in the state (2A) last year. They lose Meg Anderson, but return three legs of their state champion 200 free relay team (Hahmann, sister Haley Hahmann and Werdine).
Wharton: Led by Kuethe, and fellow state finalists Sarah Menendez and Dani Albright, the Wildcats will be strong again.
Newsome: Sharla Milne is gone, but Newsome has the depth to reload.
Sickles: With Cook and senior Katherine Westbrook, the Gryphons are young but still dangerous.