Kailey Pederson was six hundredths of a second from a finals appearance in the Chaska freshman's state meet debut in 2018.

A school-record 58.08 seconds in the 100-yard backstroke.

Pederson is at a whole another level this season. Evidenced by a pair of times besting her career-best effort.

Her backstroke swim of 57.37 seconds, good for fifth place on Nov. 8 in the Section 2AA finals at Eden Prairie Community Center, is just scratching the surface of her potential.

"I definitely have improved on my underwaters. I've been really focusing a lot of that this season. That and my turns. I'm really glad the work is paying off," Pederson said.

Pederson was one of 10 section swimmers to qualify in the backstroke race. She is the lone qualifier for Chaska into the Class AA State Meet Nov. 15-16 at the Jean Freeman Aquatic Center at the University of Minnesota.

"I was less nervous this year because I was closer to the state cut (59.06) than I was last year. I felt like I was going to do it. I felt like I was going to get the time I needed, so it was more about what place I would get," Pederson said.

In total, pool records were set in 10 of 11 events with five Section 2AA records, all from Minnetonka.

Chaska was fifth of eight teams in the standings with 154 points.

Sixteen swims back for the finals, senior Lindsay Smutka was the Hawks' other championship finalist, an eighth-place finish of 53.89 seconds in the 100-yard freestyle.

Chaska also had all three relays in the top six. Pederson, Eliza Prescher, Gretta Hansen, and Smutka were fifth in the 200-yard medley relay in a season-best 1:52.22. Smutka posted the fourth-fastest anchor freestyle leg of 24.47.

Ella Marti, Kiana Tardia, Ava Kallop, and Payton Fogarty were sixth in the 200-yard freestyle relay (1:43.22) with Serena Urevig, Pederson, Fogarty, and Smutka also placing sixth in the 400-yard freestyle relay (3:43.41).

Among the highlights of the meet came in the 100-yard butterfly, the first sub-one minute time from sophomore Ava Kallop in 59.99.

Urevig and Hansen were 11th and 13th in the 200 individual medley in 2:12.81 and 2:16.01.

Pederson was 10th in her first individual race, the 200-yard freestyle, in 1:58.24. Marti and Hansen were 13th and 15th in the butterfly in 1:01.31 and 1:01.74.

Other top finishes came from Fogarty in the 100-yard freestyle (15th, 56.53), Prescher and senior Brooke Freeman in the 500-yard freestyle (14th and 15th, 5:29 and 5:29.37) and Smutka and Urevig in 12th and 13th in the 100-yard backstroke (59.89 and 1:00.57).

Of the 10 swimmers to compete in the finals, six were underclassmen.

Pederson, who is excited about the future of the Chaska program, already has some goals for 2020. First things first, though, she's got the state preliminaries and hopefully state finals remaining.

"I think I can go faster. That's my hope," she said.


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