Kutschke eyes state glory

 

Manistee senior Anna Kutschke, shown here swimming the 100-yard breaststroke against Spring Lake on Sept. 17, has earned Division 3 state qualifying times in three different events, the 50-yard freestyle, the 100-yard freestyle and as part of the 400-yard freestyle relay. (Brian Fogg/News Advocate)

Manistee senior Anna Kutschke, shown here swimming the 100-yard breaststroke against Spring Lake on Sept. 17, has earned Division 3 state qualifying times in three different events, the 50-yard freestyle, the 100-yard freestyle and as part of the 400-yard freestyle relay. (Brian Fogg/News Advocate)

MANISTEE — There are a handful of athletes in the area who compete at the highest level in their sport in the state and Anna Kutschke is one of them.

Kutschke, a senior swimmer at Manistee, flirts with the top times in the state of Michigan virtually every time she enters the pool.

“Anna has been with us since the 6th grade, so we’ve seen her progress since she was a young girl to becoming one of the premier swimmers in the state of Michigan,” her coach Corey Van Fleet said. “She’s fortunate, but she’s worked very hard and she deserves everything she’s attained.”

Manistee has one of the stronger swimming programs in Division 3 and led by Kutschke the Chippewas were able to finish 7th in the state last season. She came in 4th place in the 50-yard freestyle and was a part of two relay teams that placed.

Without the swimming program at Manistee High School she doubts she would be anywhere near where she is now.

“The program is really great. Without it I wouldn’t be swimming. We used to have to go to (West Shore Community) college. This season I actually have been surprising myself a little bit. I was hoping to do better than I did last season and I’m doing better than I thought I would be doing,” Kutschke said.

She has been able to improve this off-season by swimming year-round for the first time. She spent the summer with USA swim club.

Swimming has been a mainstay in the Kutschke household no matter what season it is. Anna’s brother, John, is a sophomore on the swim team at Calvin College.

Oddly enough, even though John is the older of the two, Anna was the one who got her brother into swimming.

“I actually started swimming before he did. He started his freshman year of high school and I started in fourth grade. We definitely push each other. I always love swimming with him,” Kutschke said. “It worked the same with the both of us. Neither of us liked running all that much. He tried out for basketball and there was a lot of running. So I just said ‘Hey John, swimming…?’”

She plans on continuing her swimming career, but she doesn’t know where she will be yet. Calvin College is one of the schools that Anna is looking into swimming at next year, but she is keeping her options open for now.

“I’ve looked at Calvin, where my brother is. It has mainly been schools in Michigan. Maybe look into one big school in there then I’ll look at some other places,” Kutschke said. “I want to try and see how it goes. I think I’ll like it, I mean my brother loves it. I feel like if he loves it then I’m going to love it.”

Van Fleet thinks it’s important for her to not only look into a good swimming program, but also to consider academics because she is a 4.0 student.

“It’s still pretty early, although she started to get the bum’s rush from a lot of schools. Some of them may have good swimming programs but maybe their academic programs aren’t suited for someone like her. She’s a 4-point student,” Van Fleet said.

For now, however, her focus still is on the season at hand. She finishes first in most of the individual races she has, sometimes by a handful of seconds. This past week she won the 50-yard freestyle by over a second, and the 100-yard freestyle by 4 seconds. In some races there isn’t anyone in her vicinity while racing and she is forced to race more against herself than the field.

“Sometimes it helps to have something next to you, but sometimes you just have to learn that you want the time and to push yourself no matter what,” Kutschke said. “My goal is always to try and beat my own time. If I do that I can try my hardest and not feel too bad if someone beats me.”

This season her goal is to win a state championship. She believes she would be the top seed in the Division 3 state finals in the 50- and the 100-yard freestyle, but the top time changes every week.

Naturally, they frequently check. She also could be a part of a relay team at the Division 3 state finals.

“I want to be top in the state this year, hopefully in the 100 free. I just want to go as fast as I can in my races,” Kutschke said.

She won’t have to wait long for her next race. Kutschke and the rest of the Chippewas will be in action tonight at the Paine Aquatic Center in a tri-meet, hosting Ludington and Spring Lake.

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Posted by Brian Fogg

Brian is the sports writer for the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach him at (231) 398-3110 or bfogg@pioneergroup.com.

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