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Examiner
  • All-Area Girls Swimming & Diving: Broncos' Hynes stars from start

  • Even for a novice, it’s hard not to notice Haley Hynes.

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  • Even for a novice, it’s hard not to notice Haley Hynes.
    When the Lee’s Summit North freshman swimmer splashes into the pool, everything – her form, her technique, the way she glides through the water – flows gracefully.
    “When you see natural talent, you just understand that it’s just natural and that’s the way she is,” North coach Mike Walker said. “She just has a perfect natural form and just a pretty stroke. She never swims ugly.”
    Walker, a first-year head coach, started hearing talk about Hynes more than a year ago as an assistant for the Broncos. Supposedly, she was going to be a program changer. The type of swimmer that could rewrite the record books.
    Walker admits he was more than a little skeptical. It seems every year there’s some eighth-grade phenom lurking who is supposed to carry the team for years to come. Fact is, adjusting to varsity competition is tough.
    But Hynes proved to be much more than junior-high myth by becoming the first freshman at North to qualify for state in all eight events, setting four individual school records and contributing to a pair of relay marks and winning state titles in the 200-yard individual medley and 100 backstroke. After one of the most successful seasons in Bronco history, she was named The Examiner’s 2012-13 Girls Swimmer of the Year.
    “Even within the first couple weeks of basic meets you could tell she was going to be set apart,” Walker said.
    That said, Walker was concerned with how Hynes would acclimate herself on the team. Would she be cocky? Would the upperclassmen accept the hot-shot freshman?
    Turns out, Walker had nothing to worry about. Hynes was regularly one of the first to arrive at practice and one of the last to leave. And sure, none of the seniors particularly enjoyed regularly getting outpaced by the freshman in lane one, but Walker said that pushed everyone to work even harder.
    And for Hynes’ part, she embraced the team concept wholeheartedly. When asked what her fondest memory of her rookie campaign would be years from now, she didn’t mention the state championships or individual records, but instead told a story about joking around with her teammates the day of preliminaries at the Suburban Big Six Conference Championships.
    “Everyone was just so supportive and having a great time,” she said. “It was such a fun day.”
    Walker also made it a point that Hynes swim in all the events, something he requires of all his swimmers, and not just her preferred 200 IM and 100 backstroke. She excelled in all of them, setting program records in the 200 free (1 minute, 56.91 seconds), 200 IM (2:04.76), 100 butterfly (58.58) and 100 back (54.98) and swam on the record-setting 200 medley (1:51.77) and 400 freestyle (3:41.13) relay teams.
    Page 2 of 2 - While it didn’t take long for her to take over the prep swimming scene, she said she didn’t really start feeling confident about her chances of winning state titles until about midseason.
    “After racing some of the top competition in my races, I knew that I was pretty good,” she said. “I just had to race them to know. Once I figured it out, then it was pretty obvious that I’m one of the top swimmers and I know where I’m supposed to be.”
    It could be tough to come up with an encore after such an impressive debut, but there are plenty of goals for Hynes still to reach. She said she wants to try to win titles in a few more events, specifically the 100 butterfly. And her best time in the 100 backstroke was less than a second off the state record of 54.09.
    A swimmer of her ilk doesn’t typically struggle to come up with adequate motivation. Especially not when her career’s just getting started.
    “I have no idea if she’ll make an Olympic swimmer or not,” Walker said, “but it is cool to say this could be a step for her. She has that ability if she wants it.”
    Follow Shawn Garrison on Twitter: @GarrisonEJC
     
     
     
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