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Some swimmers jump up and down and go through various arm movements before stepping on the starting block to begin a race.
Marah Bieger, on the other hand, tends to save her energy for the race.
The strategy has paid off throughout most of the Columbus North junior’s career. Bieger finished 10th in the 200-yard individual medley and 13th in the 100 backstroke in last year’s state finals and is poised to do better this season.
“When you look at most swimmers, when they get up on the blocks, you see personality traits,” North coach Jim Sheridan said. “Her personality trait when she gets up on the blocks is very nonchalant, very quiet. Most of the time, you see people moving their arms and breathing hard and fast, and she just climbs on the blocks, and she hits the water and she goes.”
Sheridan characterizes Bieger as a very easy-going, slow-moving personality.
“In the water, though, you see two different people, and what our goal has been to do is to bring some of that personality in the water to the blocks, and she’s been working on that,” Sheridan said. “She’s trying to become more fleet of foot as her lifestyle and her personality changes to allow her swimming to go a little bit faster.”
Bieger admits she’s rather quiet around most people until she gets to know them better.
“I try to get in my zone and stay focused,” Bieger said. “Sometimes, I think you can psych yourself out of the race. I just try to keep calm.”
Sheridan likes that aspect of Bieger’s approach.
“That’s a great personality to have because it keeps you calm throughout your race,” he said. “What we want her to do is bring more excitement to that race to go to each level of swimming that she’s capable of reaching.”
Through the first five meets of the season, Bieger is approaching the times she was swimming at the end of last year. She is ahead of where she was at this time last season.
“I started out faster than I did last year, and that’s always a good thing,” Bieger said. “You know you’re getting faster than you were.”
“Some pretty good Division I programs already are starting to knock on the door because they’ve seen the improvement over the first two years,” Sheridan said.
Bieger took unofficial visits to Ohio State, Purdue and Kentucky over fall break. Two weeks ago, she went to Junior Day at South Carolina.
“I’ve always wanted to swim at a Division I college, but I was never really sure where, and I’m not sure now, either,” Bieger said.
But she does know what she wants to accomplish this season.
“I really want to be there to help my team out, but as far as individual goals, I definitely want to be top eight (at state) in both my individual events, and I want to break the 100 breast (school) record this year.”
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