Ella Houwers figures she will have about 48 hours to enjoy her latest state title.
It’s back to the water Monday.
Such is life when you’re one of the top prep swimmers in the state.
Houwers, a Whitewater High junior, capped off another impressive season Friday night by winning her second straight Division 2 state title in the 100 breaststroke. She added a runner-up finish in the 200 individual medley and was on the Whippets’ 200 medley relay team that finished sixth and earned a spot on the podium.
Houwers took the weekend off, but she will be back to her daily grueling training regimen Monday as she prepares for next weekend’s Western Great Lakes Open.
“Now is when I get into the meets where I start to swim the longer events,” Houwers said. “I’ll probably start doing the 200 breaststroke or the 200 freestyle, events I don’t do during the (high school) season.
“We train really hard all the way through winter up until March, when we go to NCSA Junior Nationals. It’s a busy schedule, but I don’t mind it.”
The hard work and dedication to a sport that she has competed in since third grade has paid off. She’s won two straight Division 2 state titles in the 100 breaststroke after finishing second her freshman year.
At Friday night’s state meet, Houwers set two more school records, including her winning time of 1:05.07 in the 100 breaststroke. She now owns seven of Whitewater’s 11 school records.
Whitewater coach Gina Foucault said if you looked up the term student-athlete in the dictionary, you’d probably find a picture of Houwers next to it.
“Ella puts all the pieces together,” Foucault said. “Academics, work ethic, nutrition, dedication, positive mindset. When you put all those pieces together like she has, good things happen.
“And she’s got a good mix of everything when it comes time to race. She’s nervous, excited, ready, and because there’s good balance of all of that, you know she’s going to go out and race hard.”
Houwers is not one to rest on her laurels. She knew that if she wanted to be a “complete” swimmer, she had to improve in butterfly and backstroke. That meant working hard on her upper body strength and perfecting the flip turns necessary to be successful in the 200 individual medley, where a competitor swims 50 yards of butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle.
The dedication to improving all parts of her arsenal paid off in a big way Friday night. Houwers was second in the 200 individual medley, an event in which she was the top seed coming in. She finished with a time of 2:06.99. Madison Edgewood’s Anna teDuits won the event in 2:06.28, shaving nearly seven seconds off her winning time at the sectional meet.
“Fly has always been a struggle for me,” Houwers said. “But over the summer, I was able to get my time down in the IM and that changed how I raced.
“I used to kind of relax on the fly and let everyone else go and then come back. Now, I can run with them right from the start.”
Although Whitewater loses senior Brianna Zimdars, who was fifth at state in the 500 freestyle, Houwers leads a talented group of underclassmen who will be back next fall. Whitewater finished eighth overall Friday night.
Houwers said interest from college programs has been increasing recently. She said she definitely wants to swim in college and continues to pursue those options.
Houwers will be shooting for a third straight state title in the breaststroke and hopes to add another gold medal in the 200 IM.
“The biggest improvement this year was in my technique and endurance,” Houwers said. “Now, I have to take the next step before next season and get even better with those two things.”
If that happens, Ella Houwers will likely welcome a couple of days out of the water.