15-year-old joins Team Hawai‘i at Western Zones
by Lanaly Cabalo – The Garden Island
PUHI — A look at Emma Rausch’s swim times and the Team Hawai‘i coaches knew they wanted her on their squad.
“They looked at my times and said they needed another girl on the team for the relays. None of the other girls had times faster than me so they called and asked if I wanted to be on the team,” Rausch said.
The 15-year-old Swim Kaua‘i Aquatics and reigning Kaua‘i Interscholastic Federation champion in the 100 Freestyle and 100 Backstroke — who also broke the KIF record for the free when she won it with a time of 57.72 — was the lone Kaua‘i swimmer asked to join the team of 40 Hawai‘i swimmers representing the state at the Western Zone Swimming Championships Aug. 5 to 9 in Mount Hood, Ore.
One time dubbed the “Best in the West,” the competition includes teams from Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming and Oregon.
It was a last-minute invite for Rausch, but she’ll be on a plane and on her way by this weekend.
“I’m definitely very nervous,” Rausch said. “This will be my first meet outside of this state.”
Rausch will be competing in four relays and six individual meets — the 50 Yard Freestyle, 100 Freestyle, 200 Individual Medley, 200 Backstroke, 100 Backstroke and 100 Breastroke. Her favorites are the 50 Free and the 100 Breastroke, but admits that the 100 Backstroke is her best race.
“I remember when I first started, I hated the 100 Backstroke,” she said. “I used to dread swimming it. I used to beg my coach not to make me swim it.”
Rausch learned at a young age when she was signed for a Learn to Swim class on the North Shore. She swam leisurely for a year and started competing in meets seriously only three years ago.
“I started out going only two days a week to get a workout in, then I figured I was spending so much time with it, why not start taking it seriously. Then, it became a passion.”
She was 10 years old for her first meet, but she says that didn’t count because it was just a fun meet. Her first real one was two summers ago.
“The first meet I took seriously was the Sakamoto meet on Maui. It was my first off-island meet and I remember walking into the pool and thinking ‘Oh my God.’ I was so nervous,” she said. “I remember that was the first time I begged my coach to not make me do the 100 Back.”
But it was after that meet that Rausch began to take the sport more seriously
“Once I started swimming, I took it more seriously because I started to feel like the hard work was paying off,” she said.
In her freshman year at Kapa‘a High School, she won two individual KIF titles and a relay title for the Girls 200 Yard Medley with Tania Rames, Kara Dastrup and Kaitlyn Jerry.
She placed second at the Long Course State Championships in June and she’s also been an active member of the Kaua‘i Junior Lifeguard team — the only team to have won four consecutive state titles.
The junior lifeguard state championships are also this weekend and Rausch may or may not make it. It’s the team’s chance to win five in a row and Rausch is looking at her options of competing in both.
“I don’t know. I leave on Friday, so I might be able to make it if I could get from the competition to the airport,” she said.
Many former Olympic swimmers have competed in the Western Zone Championship, namely Amanda Beard, Janet Evans, Summer Sanders and Klete Keller.
Rausch hopes to someday take swimming to the next level and compete in college.
Family: Parents Colette and Chad; brother Jake and sister Maddy
Organizations/Teams: Swim Kaua‘i Aquatics, Kapa‘a High School swim team, Kaua‘i Junior Lifeguards, Team Hawai‘i
1st Kaua‘i Interscholastic Federation 100 Freestyle
1st KIF 100 Backstroke
2nd 100 Backstroke Long Course State Championships
1st State Junior Lifeguards (2004-07)
“That’s the plan, but we’ll see what happens,” she said.
• Lanaly Cabalo, sports editor, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 237) or email@example.com