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Lumberjacks swimmer Steph Frey motivated to do her best

Steph Frey wants to break as many Bemidji girls swimming records as possible. The sophomore is well on her way toward that goal as she broke two of them Saturday at the 8A True Team meet. Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper

Steph Frey considers swimming a full-time occupation and the Bemidji sophomore knows how she wants to be compensated.

"My goal is to rewrite the entire Bemidji record board and I want to do that soon," Frey said prior to Monday's practice. "If I can get all of the records now I can work on breaking all of my own records and that would be quite fun, too."

During Saturday's Section 8A True Team meet at UND Frey began her record-breaking quest. Early in the meet she won the 50 free in a time of 25.37. That effort eclipsed the previous school record of 25.50 set by Sara Faver in 2005.

"Sara actually called me to congratulate me on breaking her record," Frey said. "That was nice."

In the meet's final event, the 400 free relay, Frey acted as the lead swimmer and she set the winning tone by completing her leg in 54.67. Because she swam lead, her split was eligible to be a school record and the time beat the existing standard of 55.01 set by Brooke McKee in 1995.

Frey also completed the 500 free in 5:27.00 Saturday and that effort was thought to have broken the record of 5:27.82 which was set in 1997 by Kari Flathers. Further research, however, revealed that Flathers actually swam a 5:24.94 at the section meet in 1994 so Frey came up a little short in her quest to break that record.

"That's okay," Frey said of not breaking the 500 record. "That leaves me with one more challenge."

Seeing Frey break two school records did not come as a surprise to BHS coach Scott Leindecker. But the fact that the records fell Saturday did catch Leindecker off guard.

"Records are usually broken at a section or state meet when the girls are peaking, are shaved and are rested," Leindecker said. "You seldom see a record broken during the middle of the season."

Frey, however, was not surprised that two records fell Saturday.

"I knew what the record times were and I've kept track of my times," she said. "I knew I was getting close. I had been swimming well in the early events such as the medley Saturday so I thought breaking a record was a definite possibility."

There are few places Frey would rather be than near water. In the summer she swims and tubes on Lake Bemidji and from 7:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. during the off season she is at the high school pool working on form, endurance and technique with help from coaches from the BASS Club.

"BASS is a huge reason why Steph and our other top swimmers are so good," Leindecker said. "The coaches at BASS are very good and BASS offers the opportunity for kids to swim all year long."

Frey is a perfect example of how a motivated youngster can develop with the right coaching and the right facilities.

"I've been swimming since first or second grade with BASS," Frey said. "I remember Woody (Leindecker) telling my folks way back then that I should be a swimmer and that I needed to join BASS.

"When I started swimming I liked the challenge," Frey continued. "Swimming is very hard but it's very rewarding, too. I enjoy swimming and I enjoy the challenges. I always want to be better than I am."

How much better Frey will become remains to be seen but she certainly has ample motiviation.

"I am self motivated but I also have teammates who are motivating me to do my best," Frey said.

Among those teammates is fellow sophomore Maris Jahner.

"At the middle school Maris pushed me and I always wanted to be as fast as she was," Frey said.

Jahner's progress was temporarily halted when she tore her Achilles tendon as an eighth grader. Jahner is continuing her recovery and Frey and Leindecker are as eager as Jahner to see her return to top form.

"Maris is getting her magic back. She's is starting to get healthy again," Leindecker said.

"I want Maris to get back to full strength as soon as she can," Frey said. "That would make the team better and that would make me better. And Maris is almost there. She's doing very well again."

With that type of motivation, no Bemidji swimming record is safe.

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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