Mikayla Rogers was just catching her breath after the 500 freestyle at the state swim meet when she looked up at the scoreboard.
She had to catch her breath all over again.
“I looked up at the board when I finished and I couldn’t believe what I saw,” she said.
Rogers, the reigning Warwick Beacon Girls’ Swimmer of the Year, had expected another solid showing at the state meet. But this was something different. The junior took third overall in the 500, one of the best finishes by a Warwick swimmer in years.
She added a fifth-place finish in the 100 butterfly, capping a great year that she didn’t see coming.
“I really didn’t think I would do much better than I did last season,” Rogers said. “My times were right around the same and I didn’t think I could get any better.”
But she did. Her state meet time in the 500 was 5:28.16, nearly 12 full seconds faster than her state meet time from the year before, when she finished seventh. Her 100 fly time was more than a second faster.
With tougher competition in the state, she also thought it might be difficult to improve on her top-10 finishes from her sophomore campaign.
“I expected to level out,” Rogers said. “I was so surprised.”
The 500 free was the biggest shocker. In the first 100, she felt like she was going slow but she was determined to stay at the feet of the swimmer in the lane next to her.
As it turned out, she wasn’t going so slow after all.
“For the middle 200, I just tried to keep that pace, keep kicking, steady breathing and just relax,” she said. “For the last 100, I tried to get a peek up at the board and I couldn’t. The last 150, I just kicked it all into gear. I saw I passed one girl and then I saw another girl on the other side of the pool who I was even with. I wanted to pass her. I gave it my all.”
It worked. Rogers finished behind only Cumberland senior Courtney Kent and South Kingstown standout Gabrielle Dunkle.
In the 100 fly, Rogers wasn’t even in the top heat, but her performance was good enough for a second top-five finish.
“I wasn’t in the final heat so I didn’t expect to finish as high as I did,” Rogers said. “That was just amazing.”
Rogers has one more year to chase more success. She may eventually level off like she thought – but she may just keep right on going up too.
“Next year, I’d like to drop more time if I can and possibly place a little higher,” Rogers said. “And I would really like to help my team place better.”