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State swim: Johnson, Neuberger looking to enjoy the U of M pool

YMCA Stingrays senior swimmers are (standing) Madison Neuberger, Nathan Johnson and (foreground) Stephanie Flores. (Tim Middagh / Daily Globe)

WORTHINGTON -- High school seniors Nathan Johnson and Madison Neuberger just want to enjoy their final state swim meet as members of the Worthington Stingrays.

Sure, they’d like to do well. But as Neuberger said this week, she’s not quite as concerned with her times and finishes as she is to appreciate what might be her last opportunity at the University of Minnesota pool.

Johnson agrees. “You kind of just want to enjoy. You don’t want to over-analyze everything,” he said.

On Sunday, the Stingrays of veteran head coach Donna Damm will participate in the big state meet in the Twin Cities, and they’ll bring a large contingent of qualifiers between the grades of 8 and 18.

The top place-winners may return to the U of M pool again this year, for regionals.

Both Johnson and Neuberger, who along with Stephanie Flores are the only seniors on the Stingrays team, plan to compete in several events on Sunday. For Johnson, it’s the 50 freestyle, the 100 and 200 breaststroke, the medley relay for breaststroke and the freestyle relay. For Neuberger, it’s the 50 free, 100 breaststroke, 200 medley relay and 200 freestyle relay.

This is Neuberger’s 10th season as a Stingray swimmer. She said it was natural for her to join the team as a youngster because other family members and friends did it first. She liked it right away because of her strong attraction to water.

“I just really enjoyed being in the water,” she said.

Johnson said he was tentative, at first.

“I was pretty bad right away, so I wasn’t enjoying it so much. But after I met some people, I started to enjoy it,” he explained.

Both seniors have participated in, according to their own estimations, about seven state meets. Johnson said he was never really overwhelmed with his first time in the expansive U of M pool complex because he’d taken part in a lot of big Tae Kwon Do tournaments previously. Neuberger remembers her first state meet for another reason.

She was 12 years old at the time, and her parents -- who’d set strict guidelines regarding when she would be allowed to receive her first cellphone -- said she could get one early if she placed in the top 50.

“I didn’t have to wait the extra six months until my birthday,” she smiled.

Doug Wolter

Doug Wolter is the Daily Globe sports editor. He served as sports reporter, then sports editor, news editor and finally managing editor at the Daily Globe for 22 years before leaving for seven years to work as night news editor at the Mankato Free Press in Mankato. Doug now lives in Worthington with his wife, Sandy. They have three children and seven grandchildren. Doug, retired after a lengthy career in fast-pitch softball, enjoys reading, strumming his acoustic guitar and hanging around his grandchildren. He self-publishes original fiction in his spare time. Two of his stories, "The Genuine One" and "The Old Man in Section 129" were distributed through a national publisher.

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