FEDERAL WAY, Wash. -- The reality of her final swim meet appeared to be catching up with Prosser senior Hailey Rankin as she stood off to the side before Saturday's Class 2A 100-yard butterfly state medal presentation.
After wiping away her tears, she climbed onto the podium, hugged good friend Anne Froelich of Ellensburg and accepted her fourth-place medal with a small smile.
But really, she wanted more from herself at the end.
"I'm happy, but I'm sad," she said. "I had higher goals than what I ended up doing."
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Rankin, last year's state runner-up in the 100 fly, ended up finishing in 1:00.79. She swam to a personal best in the 200 freestyle by outtouching W.F. West's Gabrielle Godlewski for third place in 2:02.04, but she wanted to break 2 minutes.
"Yesterday, my nerves were uncontrollably high," Rankin said. "Today, I had no nerves whatsoever. That's never happened before."
Though Rankin might feel some disappointment, Prosser coach Kerry Warden knows she is losing one of the best swimmers in school history.
"It breaks my heart," Warden said. "I've been a basketcase, but I've been trying not to show her that. At the same time, I'm very excited for her. The world is her oyster."
Rankin has toured the University of Washington, which does not have a swim program, but she admits to having some second thoughts about leaving the sport to which she has dedicated so much of her life thus far.
"As of right now, I'm done, but maybe I'll say, 'I want to go back to the Channel Cats,' " Rankin said.
Even if she can shake the competitive bug, Rankin will have plenty of swim lessons to take with her.
"Swimming taught me about life," she said. "Swimming taught me more than any sport I could have learned. The stress and dedication I put into it will help me in the future."
Freund dives into history
Southridge junior Danielle Freund placed fourth in the 3A finals for the best state finish by a Tri-City diver.
With her score of 354.70, Freund leapfrogged over former Southridge diver Katie Smoot, who was seventh in 2008 with a 338.60 when the Suns were in Class 4A.
After completing each of her three dives Saturday, Freund tried to focus her attention elsewhere.
"I don't listen to the scores," Freund said. "I was on Pinterest the whole time between dives, and I was talking to Jessica (Anderson, Kamiakin diver)."
With champion Ashley Knox of John F. Kennedy and runner-up Meg Lindsay of Mercer Island graduating this year, Freund will aim for a title in 2013.
"I'm definitely going to train and pick it up," Freund said. "But Shannon (Engelbrecht, third-place finisher from Bainbridge) is a junior, and she competes year-round."
Also returning next year will be Kamiakin's Danielle Brandon, who finished 12th with 287.40.
Kennewick senior Hailey Murphy watched at the corner of the competition pool as her younger sister Alexis swam in the 3A 100 breaststroke consolation final.
When Alexis touched the wall in 1:07.79, Hailey jumped up and down, then rushed to greet her sister and pick her up for a big bear hug.
"She cut two seconds off her time from yesterday (1:09.25) and cut a second off yesterday from her time before, so she cut three seconds off her time," Hailey said.
Her sister's performance and the Lions' third-place finishes in the consolation finals of the 200 medley and 400 free relays helped Hailey take her mind off her tough swims Friday. She lost her goggles and swim cap during her 200 individual medley heat and then inhaled water on the last leg of the 100 fly.
But regardless of her results this weekend, Hailey, Kennewick's first four-year state qualifier, has inspired her twin sisters, freshmen Alexis and Blair.
"It was motivation for me to go to state because this is Hailey's last year," Alexis said. "I wanted to make this year her best year."