Incline star senior Kate Rye will swim in her last high school meet this weekend in the same pool where she will begin her college career.
And she will try to go where no other 50-yard freestyle swimmer in Nevada has gone before.
Rye will swim for her fourth straight state title in that event when the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association Class 3A State High School Swimming and Diving Championships take place Saturday, May 19, at Jim Reitz Natatorium at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
"I'm excited," Rye said. "As a freshman, when I won it was incredible but I knew I would really have to step it up and work harder. Then, in my sophomore year, I went into the race ranked second. I knew I had to have a good race and I won by five hundredths of a second. It was exhilarating. I was training hard and it paid off.
This year, I'm favored but it's a short race and it's always close. Anything can go wrong, a bad turn or whatever. Everything just needs to be perfect."
Rye cruised to victory in two events to qualify for the state meet at the NIAA Northern Region Swimming and Diving Championships last weekend at the Carson Aquatic Facility. She won the 50 free by two-tenths of a second and cruised to victory in the 100 free by nearly three seconds.
Rye will be the favorite in the 50 free when she enters the university pool, where she has a partial athletic scholarship that can become more lucrative as her times get faster. She will pay most of her college fees through academic scholarships and plans to major in psychology.
"It has been a pleasure coaching Kate over the past four season," said Highlanders fifth-year head coach Meagan Ballew. "She is an exemplary student-athlete and has grown to be an effective leader amongst her peers and teammates. I could not be more proud of Kate and am excited to see what her future has in store for her."
UNLV wasn't Rye's original first choice. During her junior year she had her eyes set on heading to the west coast in San Diego. But after a recruiting trip down south during her senior year, she ended up loving the desert.
"It was actually a backup school," Rye said. "It's in-state and cheaper than going out of state. But I went on a recruiting trip there and really loved it. The whole time I thought I wanted to go to San Diego, but my experience at UNLV was amazing."
Rye, who has lived in the basin her whole life and has been in Incline since she was 11, started competing at age 8. She was a "decent" swimmer early on but not somebody you'd pick out and say, "Wow, she's fast."
"I had to put in a lot of hard work," Rye said. "When I got older and really knew I loved the sport, I got more competitive. Since middle school and watching swimming in the Olympics, I've always had a goal to go swim in college at the division I level."
Now Rye is in a group of four that is tied with three state 50 free titles and will look to put her name on top of the list. The meet is scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m.
"Kate is the athlete that every coach wants on her team," Ballew said. "She is a natural athlete, self-driven, has an amazing work ethic, and most importantly Kate has heart. She has an inner drive to never give up when things get difficult; she will do more and train harder because she wants to, not because someone is watching. Kate is passionate and gives everything she has to help her team."