It may be an attitude exclusive to the three Columbia Public School swimming teams.

They all practice together at Hickman’s pool and are supported by the same coach -- Taylor Birsa.

At times, their best competition doesn’t come from St. Louis, Kansas City or anywhere else in the state, but right in their home pool.

The 41st girls swimming & diving championships start today at the City of St. Peters Rec-Plex with the state’s best swimmers converging to take home a championship.

Columbia will be well represented at the meet with well over a dozen athletes competing.

“Right when we get in that atmosphere, it's going to I think jump start their excitement even more,” Birsa said.

Rock Bridge won the Class 2 girls team championship last year and Hickman took third. There may be less room for error this season with plenty lost to graduation.

“I know that unfortunately we don't have a lot of depth this year like we did last year and I know that the teams that placed well last year have that depth,” Birsa said. ... “We just go with it to be honest.

“I’m hoping for best times, that’s my biggest thing. Points -- yes, we care a lot about them, but it's not my main concern, I want them to swim fast at state and I still want them to make a name for themselves at the pool that we’re going to.”

The three-day swimming and diving championships starts with Class 2 preliminary events this afternoon, where Rock Bridge and Hickman will compete, followed by the Class 2 finals on Friday morning. The Class 1 preliminary events kick off Friday afternoon and the event will finish with the Class 1 finals on Saturday morning. Battle will compete in Class 1.

“We have a lot of girls that have the opportunity to win and it’s going to be what happens, happens at that meet,” Birsa said.

One of the first swimmers Birsa mentioned was Hickman senior Grace Beahan -- a Missouri State commit who is competing in the 500-meter freestyle, 200-meter freestyle, 200-meter freestyle relay and 400-meter freestyle relay.

Beahan is the defending 500-meter freestyle state champion and is the top-seeded swimmer in the event this season. She also leads the pack in the 200-meter freestyle.

“Mentally, I think I need to not think about it too much,” Beahan said. “I don't want to psych myself out and go with the confidence that I have already knowing that I know what to do.

“In my actual race, I've been working on my strategy in practice and some technical things like flip turns and stuff that I think will help out a lot.”

Hoping to represent Columbia well in Class 1 is Battle senior Lauren Naeger, who is competing in the 200-meter individual medley and 100-meter butterfly.

In particular, she’s been working on her turns to try and get to the top of the podium.

“I’ve been hitting them really wrong this season, so [I’ll] try to get the timing right so that I cannot lose a lot of speed,” Naeger said.

Naeger got second last season in the 100-meter butterfly and will race against the same swimmer that won the title last year.

Naeger has gone back and watched that race and noticed she didn’t have the greatest start -- falling behind by nearly a body length, which she said ended up about being the difference between them.

Rock Bridge junior Ansley Barnes will also be competing in four events -- the 200-meter freestyle, 500-freestyle, 400-freestyle relay and 200-freestyle relay.

As an individual, Barnes knows she’s swimming against some of her main competition at every practice.

“I think it makes it so much more fun just because when you're racing people that you know you're going to race at the meet, it pushes you so much and there some of best friends ... and we’re very competitive,” Barnes added. “But also, after we're done, we hug and we have a good time.”

“It’s actually really fun to watch because there’s no hostility towards each other, there’s nothing like that,” Birsa said. “It’s just they feed off of their energy and they all perform well in this pool and race each other at practice but there’s no hard feelings whether one person beats them or not.”

(573) 815-1811