Kate Rye stepped out onto the swimming deck at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas with music in the background. The Incline senior could feel the emotions and adrenaline building.
She had warmed up. Her muscles were twitching. She was thinking positive and couldn't stop smiling. She was "in the moment," ready to race.
And she proceeded to set a record that will never be broken.
Rye won the 50-yard freestyle for an unprecedented fourth straight year Saturday, May 19, at the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association Class 3A State Swimming Championships.
Rye, from her freshman year to this, her senior year, has known nothing but championships in that event. No other 50-free swimmer has accomplished the feat. The record can only be tied, unless rules drastically change.
After hitting the wall in first place, Rye looked up and saw the whole arena going nuts.
"I was relieved. I felt accomplished and successful. There was cheering from everybody and I was smiling," Rye said. "I got to race against two of my club teammates, who came in second and third (Truckee Wolverines Emma Purdy and Courtney Engberg), and we were all hugging. For us to get the top three was so much fun."
In winning the race Rye set a personal best time. She chopped off a little over two-tenths of a second from her previous best, a significant drop with the whole race taking just 24.25 seconds.
Rye said she wasn't concentrating on winning the race, but was focused on setting a new PR, which she knew would earn her the title.
Rye also claimed the championship in the 100 free for the second straight year. She recorded a season best time (53.64) in beating seven other swimmers by nearly 2 seconds. Rye finished the 100 free in second place during her freshman and sophomore seasons, stopping what could have been a high school career sweep in both events.
She had been working on her stroke for the 100 free leading up to the state championships and feels she can still make great improvements.
And her future coaches were there to watch as the UNLV-bound athlete showed off her skills in both events.
"A couple of the coaches were down there and they finally got to see me in the water and I got to talk with them," Rye said. "Hopefully they liked what they saw."
Rye also said swimming with, and against, friends helped her have a successful meet. She said spending time with them in Vegas helped to loosen her up, helped relieve the tension with laughter and, in turn, helped her swim faster.
She also couldn't say enough about the support she has felt from the community.
"Even though my high school team wasn't there, teachers and classmates texted me good luck and even parents of students that had already graduated were sending me messages," Rye said. "I was so grateful to be supported by all the community members. It shows how close-knit this community is."