By ANDY HEINTZ
Courier sports writer
---- — FAIRIELD — The Ottumwa girls swim team's season got off to positive start Tuesday, as the Bulldogs picked up a commanding 111-56 dual victory at Fairfield.
Claire and Caroline Carlson combined for five first-place finishes and Marissa Rupalo took first in two races. Claire Carlson's first-place finish in the 200 freestyle was made even more impressive by the fact that the race came right on the heels of a 200 medley relay race Carlson also competed in. Fatigued but not to be deterred, Carlson dug deep down and took first in the freestyle event with a time of 2:30.83.
"That's one of the more difficult things about dual meets," Ottumwa swim coach Steph Mishler said, "you have such a short turnaround between events. So that's really where the dedication we have in practice, day in and day out, really pays off."
"I didn't think about it [how tired she was], I just kind of went," Claire Carlson added. "It was pretty tiring."
Claire Carlson, spurred by her gutsy swim, went on to finish first in the 100 butterfly with 1:11.32 and she, along with sisters Caroline and Ellen Carlson, Marissa Rupalo and Savannah Adams took first in the 400 freestyle relay with 4:26.38. Also, Caroline Carlson swam to a first-place finish in the 100 breastroke with a time of 1:52.53 and Rupalo, swimming in the 500 freestyle for the first time in her career, took first with 6:47.22. Though she won the race, Rupalo said her swim didn't suffer from a lack of drama.
"I was kind of singing to myself and I lost track of my laps so I was like, 'what number am I on,' she said, "and I had to look up at the counter."
Still, in a positive way, the long race wasn't quite what Rupalo expected.
"It wasn't as bad as what it seemed like it would be," she said. "Everyone kind of looks at it and they are like '500, that's so hard,' but it wasn't that bad. After the first 100 it's like, 'just keep going, you're doing fine.'"
For the the Trojans, Baylee Bowman took first in the 200 individual medley with 2:32.95 and the 100 freestyle with 1:00.18. In addition, the Fairfield team of Baylee Bowman, Jada Lippincott, Lauren Ward and Brynna Bowman took first with a time of 2:12.84.
"It was a great time to see the girls strengths and what they provide for the team," first-year Fairfield coach Erin Cracker said. "It was a great first glimpse of what are team can do and where we can get from here."
For Mishler, it was good opportunity for some of the new faces on her squad this season.
"This was a lot of people's first meet ... first high school meet ... first meet period," Mishler said. "So it was a really good chance to get your feet wet, to get some experience. "Ottumwa competes again at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Ankeny.
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