Tide's Landon peaks at right time

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Photo by Tim Moore Senior Katie Landon will represent Beloit Memorial in the WIAA State Swimming Championships.

BELOIT - Katie Landon made a quantum leap on Saturday.

When she came down, her efforts were good enough to qualify her for the WIAA Division 1 state swimming meet.

Landon, a Beloit Memorial senior, entered Saturday's sectional meet in Beloit as the 77th seed state-wide in the 100-butterfly.

After she shaved over three seconds of her time, she finished 10th in the uber-competitive sectional, and 22nd in the state, with the top 24 headed to UW-Madison's Natatorium Saturday morning.

Landon said she was overjoyed with the result.

"I knew that I could cut my time," Landon said. "But coming in, being way back in the field, I didn't know it was going to be that good. I have to give the credit to my taper. We use that last week to really just take it easy on our bodies and get fully ready, and that's what did it for me, I think."

Beloit Memorial coach Kim Waite said the result wasn't a shock to her.

"Katie's tendency at sectionals is to drop a lot of time," Waite said. "She's an excellent taper swimmer. She went in at 1:02 and we were expecting that to drop, so a run to state wasn't out of the picture. Her real goal now, and even before the sectional meet, was to break the school record, which she is seven-tenths of a second from doing."

That record belongs to current UW-Milwaukee swimmer Heaven Wells, who set the mark when she qualified for state in 2017.

While Landon was excited about going to state herself, she did have some mixed emotions. The Tide's 400-free relay team, which included Jayda Bessel, Bea Champen-Johns and Lulu Champeny-Johns, placed seventh at the sectional meet, earning a spot on the podium and garnering hopes for a state bid.

"When coach Vogel told me I was 22nd in the fly, my first question was 'what about the relay'?" Landon said. "It turned out we placed 27th and just missed out. So I was super happy and proud that I was going by myself, but I was also bummed out the relay team wasn't going, too."

Waite said Landon's reaction showed her character.

"The fact that she was more worried about where the relay team was shows why she was a captain on this team," Waite said. "I think most people in that situation would have just been satisfied to know they had qualified as an individual, but Katie wanted to go with her teammates, too."

Landon, who went to state previously as an alternate in a relay but didn't get in the pool, said she's familiar with the environment.

"I think that will help me, the fact that I've been there before and understand what it's about," Landon said. "But I'm also pretty nervous about everything. I have a tendency to psyche myself out before the first race in every meet. After that I'm OK. But in this meet, I only have one race, and I want to make sure and be ready."

Waite is certainly aware of her prized pupil's race-day nerves.

"All week we've been working on that," Waite said. "We've just been swimming the fly with her in practice, and she's got the chance to jump another few seconds if she puts it all together. We'll just keep putting the positive thoughts together, and make sure she gets a really good warm-up, and she should be fine."

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