Eureka junior Haiden Schoessel may be the sports editor for the Eureka Bugle, a member of the Student Council and the National Honors Society, but when she gets in a pool she swims, swims, swims.
Last month, Schoessel was named the 2023 Class 2 Swimmer of the Meet at the state competition held at the Rec-Plex in St. Peters.
She captured her second consecutive first-place title in the 50 freestyle with a state record time of 23.02 seconds. She beat her time of 23.13 in the preliminaries the day before the finals.
Her times in the 50- and 100-free prelims also were state records.
“I was definitely and pleasantly surprised when I found out I broke the records in prelims. To be completely honest, I had no idea what they were until I saw them listed on the scoreboard,” Schoessel said. “My goals going into the meet were to go out there and swim to the best of my abilities and have fun with my teammates.”
Schoessel also broke one of the oldest records in the state books and claimed her first 100 freestyle state crown. Her winning time of 50.11 seconds snapped the previous record of 50.19 that had been set by Timberland’s Taylor Wohrley in 2009.
Coach Anna Jovanovic is impressed by Schoessel’s accomplishments at state.
“What she did hasn’t been done in a very long time. She should be so proud of herself,” Jovanovic said. “She has worked tirelessly in and out of the pool. Just to mentally be tough enough for back-to-back swims and records just shows how much she has matured from last year.”
The 50 free is a very competitive event that comes down to fractions of a second. Doing your best means focus and discipline, Schoessel said.
“Everything from your technique to when you breathe has to be planned out and as close to perfect as possible,” she said.
Jovanovic knew whose record Schoessel broke to set the new mark in the 50 free.
“Reagan Cathcart was the previous record holder, and I coached her at Francis Howell so it was awesome to see a current swimmer take down a former swimmer’s record. Doesn’t get much sweeter than that.”
Despite her stunning win, this season, Schoessel’s main goal was to get better. She wanted to improve her times to be sure. But she also wanted to become a better teammate and leader, Jovanovic said.
“As an upperclassman, you inherit an unofficial leadership role, so my main goal was to set an example and support my teammates as much as they have always supported me,” Schoessel said.
“She is so much fun to coach,” Jovanovic said. “She has been such a leader this year on our team and I think that has helped her relax and enjoy the season more.”
Stoessel is also a bit of a musician.
“She is always suggesting new songs for us to play at practice and really connects with everyone on the team,” Jovanovic said. “The girls created a Justin Bieber (‘Beauty and the Beat’) music video this year and she was Justin Bieber. You can only assume how much fun they had making it.”
“One of the biggest traditions our team has is music,” Schoessel said. “Every single time we are on the bus traveling to an away meet, we have a giant speaker playing music and we all are singing, or more like screaming, together. It not only gets us hyped up and excited to race, but connects us as a team on another level. Every year there is always one specific song that the team as a whole loves and we deem that our song. It is our anthem for the year essentially.”
Schoessel has one more season left at the high school level.
“I am extremely excited for my senior season. My seniors have always set a great example as leaders and organizers of team activities, so I have excellent examples of how to be a leader,” Schoessel said. “I’m counting down the days till I get to practice with some of my high school teammates again. We are a very close-knit team so a huge part of why I’m excited is getting to see my teammates again. It is definitely sad that I only have one more season left, but based on how amazing my junior season was I have no doubt it will be the best one yet.”