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Shelby Dermer Cincinnati Enquirer
The legacy of Seven Hills swimmer Ella Jo Piersma continues to grow.
On Wednesday, the junior captured Division II state championships at the OHSAA state swimming and diving tournament in Canton in the 100 and 200 free for the second consecutive season.
Piersma cruised in the 200 free to start the tournament, winning by over two seconds. In the 100 free she trailed, but made up for it with a strong finish to capture the title by just over two-tenths of a second.
"I call her (Piersma) a gamer," Seven Hills head coach Brandon Williams said. "There are just swimmers out there who look completely serious at the meets. She zones in and knows exactly what her goals are. The fact that she won the 200 freestyle in over two seconds just really shows the level of swimmer she is.
"We're super proud of her going back-to-back and hopefully she can do it again next year."
Like many Cincinnati-area swimming and diving programs, Seven Hills was uncertain it would have a season due to the pandemic. Throughout the summer, swimmers had to train in backyard pools and fight for training time. The season finally got the green light on Jan. 7, but COVID-related restrictions took its toll all the way up to Canton, with the Stingers practicing in the hotel pool prior to Wednesday's Division II portion.
It wouldn't matter as Seven Hills still logged the top local team finish in the area at 4th place.
"All of our girls did extremely well," Williams said. "Every single race our girls swam in tonight ended on the podium. We can't be more excited about that."
Aside from Piersma's pair of championship runs, fellow junior Stinger Corinne Kieser helped the club's climb in the team standings.
Kieser finished 11th in the 100 free and 19th in the 200 free at last year's state meet. She shaved significant seconds off those times Wednesday, finishing 3rd in the 100 and 6th in the 200.
"Corinne Keiser really came through," Williams said. "In the sectional meet, I saw how she was going to improve our scores overall at state. She has really dialed in her training. The fact that she's really toned in on exactly how she needs to be swimming to be successful shows how she was able to move up so much. She's just really come a really long way."
Piersma and Kieser teamed up with sophomores Carolyn Wolujewicz and Josie Domet to finish third in the 400 free relay and fifth in the 200 free relay to cement the Stingers' top-4 overall finish.
"Our relays really crushed it tonight," Williams said. "We were expecting to go top-8 in both of them, but to place third and fifth was fantastic. I have two girls up here who are just swimming relays (Wolujewicz and Domet) and they really pulled through for us and put it all out there."