Swimming with Decorah, MFL MarMac sophomores discover fun and competition

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Destiny Berns (left) and Maya Butikofer are competing with the Decorah girls swim team for the second year.

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

While other MFL MarMac athletes have taken to solid ground—the court, field or race course—for their fall sports, sophomores Maya Butikofer and Destiny Berns are showcasing their athletic prowess in the pool, as members of the Decorah girls swim team.

Both girls began swimming  with the Monona/Postville swim team during the summers of their early middle school years.

“My friends did it, and they said it was fun,” said Maya of how she got involved in the sport.

“At first, we did it for fun,” Destiny added. “We really started to like it.”

When Destiny was encouraged by a friend to swim with Decorah, she and Maya decided to give it a shot.

“I’d been swimming for a long time,” Destiny shared. “I knew I wanted to do it.”

Freshman year was a bit scary, admitted Maya. However, now in their second year with the team, which also includes participants from several other area schools, the girls said they’ve enjoyed getting to know their teammates while also participating in a sport they love.

Maya and Destiny practice with Decorah after school. That time isn’t spent merely floating around a pool.

“Some people think swimming is easy,” Maya noted. “Every practice is different, with different strokes and different numbers of sets of strokes.”

Preparation also takes place outside the water.

“We weight lift as well,” Maya added. “It’s not just about swimming.”

The swim season started Aug. 1 and will wrap up in October, around the same time as volleyball. Destiny said the team often has to travel quite a distance, to places like Iowa City and Cedar Rapids, to compete.

Meets are generally held Tuesday or Thursday nights or on Saturdays.

“Since we travel far away, a lot of the teams are in [Class] 4A,” said Destiny. “They’re really big schools, and those girls swim year-round.”

They won’t be intimidated, though.

“Our coach just tells us to focus on us,” she remarked. “We can’t control what they do.”

Among Maya’s events are the 100 freestyle, 50 freestyle, 50 backstroke and individual and relay medleys, which feature different swimming strokes. Destiny’s events include the 200 medley relay, 100 freestyle, 200 freestyle and 400 freestyle relay.

Their coach chooses which events they’ll participate in, based upon their strengths.

So far, said Maya, the team has won all its dual meets. They’re excited to host a home meet at the Luther College pool on Oct. 10.

Decorah will also host this year’s conference meet, on Oct. 21, and looks to have a strong showing.

“Last year,” said Destiny, “we won conference.”

Maya and Destiny said one of their favorite aspects of swimming is that it allows them to free their minds.

“When you’re in the pool, you don’t have to think about anything else,” Maya shared. “You can release stress.”

Plus, she said, “our teammates make it fun.”

Ever the competitor, Destiny added, “the competition also makes it fun.”

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