About 10 years ago, Elizabeth Intihar noticed that many of her friends were taking up swimming and so she decided to take lessons.
These days, the Watterson High School senior can outlast and outkick just about anyone she faces in the water.
"All my friends from school did it, and it sounded really fun," Intihar said. "They all quit, but I'm still doing it. I swam for Olympic Swim Club, which is now closed, and I loved it there."
One of six seniors on the girls swimming and diving team, Intihar eventually developed into a long-distance specialist who has qualified twice for the Division I state meet.
Intihar started competing at age 12 as a breaststroker and "slowly started longer events."
"It turned out I was pretty good, so I stuck with them," Intihar said.
Not that it's easy putting in significant mileage to compete in the 200-yard freestyle, 500 free and on a relay such as the 400 free relay.
After finishing 19th in the 500 free (5 minutes, 7.34 seconds) and competing on the 400 free relay that was 19th (3:37.85) at state as a sophomore, Intihar placed ninth in the 500 free (4:57.83) to fall one spot shy of making the awards podium at last year's state meet and finished 12th in the 200 free (1:53.36).
"I have to put in the training and find a race strategy that works for me," Intihar said. "You have to mentally prepare yourself because it's going to start hurting pretty soon and you have to get in the right frame of mind and be ready mentally to give it 100 percent during the entire race even though it's a long one."
Intihar, who was district runner-up in the 500 free last season, has picked up where she left off a year ago to lead a program that also features a two-time state qualifier in junior Mia Brown and a strong freshman class.
On Jan. 12 in the Northeast Classic at Branin Natatorium in Canton, Intihar placed third in the 500 free (5:03.77) and sixth in the 200 free (1:56.08), Brown finished sixth in the 50 free (24.29) and the 400 free relay of Brown, Intihar and freshmen Lucia Cherok and Olivia Oyster was sixth (3:37.92).
The Eagles finished 11th (72 points) behind champion North Canton Hoover (243) as 48 teams scored.
"Everybody's looking pretty good," coach Dan Cherok said.
"Mia is strong in free and (butterfly) and Elizabeth is strong in mid-distance and distance. People respect (Intihar). There were a couple meets she didn't swim at because (of junior nationals), but she still came to the meets and was overall supportive."
Intihar, who has committed to swim for William & Mary and is considering studying health sciences, is looking to close her prep career by making the state podium.
She and her teammates will compete in the CCL meet Saturday, Jan. 26, at Columbus School for Girls before the postseason begins Feb. 9 with sectional competition at Upper Arlington.
The girls are competing in Division I, and the boys are competing in Division II.
"We have a lot of freshmen who have come in that are pretty good," Intihar said. "Mia and I have spent a lot of time helping them getting adjusted to high school swimming and we think it's been going pretty well. With our relays, we're still trying to figure out what's working and what's not working. I'm definitely still training and hopefully swimming fast. I'm definitely working toward getting in the top eight, so I've definitely been working on morning swims and swimming fast in prelims since getting in the top eight is decided in prelims."
Bowlers to face Ready in key COHSBC match
The boys and girls bowling teams will compete against Ready on Thursday, Jan. 24, at Sawmill Lanes.
The girls team was 8-1 overall and led the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-D Division at 8-0 after beating Eastmoor Academy 1,800-1,366 on Jan. 18.
Ready was 6-1 in the league before a match against Walnut Ridge on Jan. 22.
Through 16 games, Mary Pulsinelli had a team-best 167.3 league average, followed by Isabelle Payton (149.4), Anna Rose (144.8) and Rachel Reuter (144.6).
"The girls will get better before the year gets over," coach Jerry Wagner said. "Rachel has come up lately, Anna is starting to feel better after having a concussion (in the offseason) and Mary's doing great."
The boys team was 3-6 overall and in the COHSBC-D after losing to Eastmoor 2,091-1,579 on Jan. 18 and before facing St. Charles on Jan. 23.
Through 16 league games, Seth Payton had a team-high 161.3 average.
"If he can just settle down and not overthrow, Seth will get much better before the year's over," Wagner said. "He's had (two) 200 (games before Jan. 18)."
Defense leading girls basketball team
After losing to Hartley 33-31 on Jan. 10, the girls basketball team held Canal Winchester to no points in the third quarter on the way to a 39-18 victory Jan. 15.
Watterson is 12-2 overall and 1-1 in the CCL and continues CCL action Thursday, Jan. 24, at home against DeSales and Saturday, Jan. 26, at CSG.
Hartley is 3-0 in the CCL after beating DeSales 50-28 on Jan. 17 and Ready is 2-1 in the league.
Through 14 games, junior guard Paige Woodford was averaging a team-high 11.3 points, followed by senior forward Grace Jenkins (9.1), senior wing player/guard Elizabeth Rabold (6.9) and sophomore guard Danielle Grim (6.7).