Cascade swimmer Ana Kessinger is hoping for a breakthrough at the Class 4A state meet this fall.
Last year as a junior, she finished 12th in the 100-yard freestyle at the state championships. This year, Kessinger, who swims year-round for the Everett-based Sting Ray Swim Club, has her sights set on top-eight finishes in the 100 free and 50 free.
“She’s got the most amazing distance-per-stroke I’ve ever seen,” Bruins girls swimming and diving coach Eric Smith said. “She takes half as many strokes as the girls next to her. She holds water really well.”
Here are five things to know about Kessinger:
1. She’s actually scared of water.That seems like an odd phobia for a swimmer, but Kessinger insists she has it. “We went to Disney World when I was 9, and since there was a pool there, my parents said I needed to know how to swim,” she said. “They put me in lessons, and I liked it. I didn’t like the water, but I liked the sport. I tried out for a swim team, and fell in love with it. I’m still afraid of the water, but I love swimming so much, so I don’t really care.”
2. Her toughest challenge came at the start of her prep career. “I had knee surgery in between eighth grade and ninth grade,” she said. “(At the time) I was stuck in a plateau mentally. I was afraid I’d hurt myself again, and since Smith already knew me and how fast I was, I had to try to uphold those standards while trying to recover from surgery. That was definitely something I had to (overcome).”
3. When she’s not swimming, she’s teaching swimming classes.She works six days per week at the Mill Creek YMCA as a swim instructor and lifeguard. “I’m always around the water,” she said, “I think it’s a lot of fun. I get to work with so many different kinds of people, and see the kids grow.”
4. She’s getting into yoga. Her favorite class in school is sixth-period physical education, partly because she can dabble in one of her new hobbies. “I (signed up) for yoga to try to reduce my chance of injury,” she said. “I figured yoga would help with my flexibility and get my muscles to stretch out. I took a little bit of time to warm up to it. I’m not a super flexible person, and ton of people were going all the way down and touching their toes, and I was barely touching my shins. Now I can touch the ground, and I’m like, ‘OK, this is kind of cool.’ And it’s really relaxing. It’s a good thing to do on meet days.”
5. She’d like to pursue a career in sports psychology. “I always had an interest in psychology, but I definitely decided that’s what I wanted to do after talking to a sports psychologist the summer of my sophomore year,” she said. “I hadn’t (set) my personal best times because of the knee surgery, and I went and talked to somebody, and it helped me out.” She’d like to swim in college if possible, but hasn’t picked a school yet.