Andie Leenerts was frank about how she felt after competing in the UIL state swimming meet last weekend in Austin.“I was tired, really,” said the Bowie junior, who last year became her school’s first All-America swimmer and the first from her school to reach the state meet since 1998. “Not too happy with my times, but happy with the places I got.”Leenerts finished 13th in the 200-yard individual medley and sixth in the 100 breaststroke. She also placed sixth in the 100 breaststroke last year at state.“I feel like I pushed it pretty hard,” she said. “I’m happy with how much effort I put into it.”“She has her goals, and I don’t think (her finishes) were quite where she wanted,” said fourth-year Bowie swimming coach Brooke Dolberry, who said Leenerts is a fierce competitor.“She’s always on time, she works hard and puts forth her best effort; she’s dedicated and hardworking,” Dolberry said before the meet. “She’s there every day, whether she’s feeling good or not — not telling us she’s not feeling good, she’s still working as hard as she can.”Terri Griffith was the last Bowie swimmer to reach the state meet, in 1998. Dolberry said that as swimmers of Leenerts’ calibre often don’t encounter competitors who can push them until the regional or state meets, she coaches Leenerts to compete against her own best times.But Leenerts makes sure to temper the hard work and high pressure with a healthy dose of hijinks.“I try to just make it fun — if you don’t like to do it, it’s not fun anymore, and if it’s not fun it’s not worth it,” she said a few days before the meet.“So I’ll just do stupid stuff at practice, like, at club practice, I love to just sing to everybody. I sing every country song I can think of, and nobody knows it, so I’m just singing by myself. Which is fine, I don’t care.”To provide a little extra push and motivation, Leenerts also looks to Anna Linkenauger, a former standout swimmer for North Carolina State and former fellow member of the local Fort Worth Arlington (FAST) club swim team.“She wanted to go out with a bang last year so she worked really hard, and I tried to beat her,” Leenerts said. “I got close; it was like, tenths of a second.”Leenerts runs cross country and track in order to cross-train, but swimming is not only her top priority — it demands most of her time.“I get jealous of people who are in football, and they’re like, ‘Yeah, we had a two-hour practice today,’ and I’m like, ‘Yeah, we go two-hour practices twice a day, and we only get maybe a 20-minute break, so ...’ It’s just different.”For now, Leenerts is focusing on preparing for her senior year and getting into college, targeting a fast California school team like Stanford, or perhaps the Naval Academy, and going out for the Olympics.“I’d love to beat Rebecca Soni and wear the same suit as her, because that would be awesome — it’s pink — or I could go orange, bright orange,” she said, laughing.
The UIL state swimming finals will be webcast live on foxsportssouthwest.com beginning at 9:30 a.m. Saturday.