Winter wins State Championship in the 100 Yard Breaststroke event
She also took 7th in the 200 Yard IM, and Merrill’s Relay Team placed 13th in the 200 Yard Medley Relay
TINA L. SCOTT
The Merrill Girls Varsity Swim Team is celebrating a school record-breaking swim and win at the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) State Competition last Friday, Nov. 11, 2022.
A pep rally at the high school started the day off, and then the Lady Jays boarded the bus for a mini parade going past several area schools including Prairie River Middle School and Trinity Lutheran School where students cheered them on, escorted by the Merrill Police Department and Merrill Fire Department.
Then it was off to the competition. The entire team went along to cheer on four swimmers competing in three events at State: Megan Miles, Amber Winter, Addison Jirovec, and Bailee Sommer. All four Lady Jays were there to compete in the 200 Yard Medley Relay. Miles swam the backstroke in the first leg of the race, followed by Winter swimming breaststroke, then Jirovec swimming the butterfly, and then Sommer swimming freestyle. Their relay team finished in 13th place with a “new season best time of 1:56.04” having “moved up one spot from their qualifying seed,” Merrill Varsity Swim Coach Kristie Winter said.
Amber Winter was the standout competitor who was there to compete in all three events starring Merrill swimmers–in the relay as one-fourth of the Medley Relay swimmers, and in two individual events–the 200 Yard IM and the 100 Yard Breaststroke.
Winter finished 7th place in the 200 Yard IM with her own personal best time of 2:12.43. But the all-star finish and real claim-to-fame for Merrill was Winter’s first place finish and Division 2 State Championship win in the 100 Yard Breaststroke, the culmination of her own personal best time and setting yet another Merrill High School record with a time of 1:04.45.
“When I touched the wall, I realized that I had gotten first, and I couldn’t believe it,” Amber Winter said. “So when I turned around and looked at the end of my lane, I saw my mom and Ginger [Kanitz, Assistant Swim Coach] crying. That’s when it hit me that I had done it …”
Scott Arneson, Activities Director at Merrill Area Public Schools, was really proud to see Amber take the win for Merrill. “She is a great student athlete,” he said. “She is one of the kids that has been super dedicated in the pool, in sports, and in academics; is well liked; volunteers; and it is awesome to see it all end with an individual State Championship. Good things do come to those that work hard. Well deserved, Amber!”
Coach Winter couldn’t be much prouder of her team and of the State Championship win either. Merrill’s all-star first place swimmer, Amber Winter, is also her eldest daughter.
“My Mom has always been my coach,” Amber said. “I couldn’t have done any of this without her.”