Written by SportsDayDFW.com
Swimming: Pool shark
Mikaela Pyrch likes to say she was born on a pool deck.
And for 15 years, the Ryan swimmer has pretty much been living on one. DRC/David Minton Ryan junior Mikaela Pyrch will swim two individual events at the Class 4A Region II meet this weekend in Fort Worth. She qualified for the UIL state meet last year as part of a relay quartet for the Lady Raiders. View larger More photos Photo store
"Pool decks are where I have spent most of my time growing up," the energetic junior said. "That's where you can find me most of the time."
Pyrch really had no choice at a younger age.
Both of her parents, Jim and Krissa, have been diving instructors since the younger Pyrch was born, so she spent a lot of her time with her parents at swim practices or swim meets sporting a bathing suit and two ears and two eyes for knowledge.
She enjoyed it most of the time. But like any kid, boredom would sink in on some occasions.
"Yes, oh yes, I would get bored," she said. "Me and my brother would bring Legos and build things and a lot of the times I would sleep. I can sleep on pool decks, also."
Fast forward to the present day.
Pyrch is now building a future in swimming and wide awake in the local swimming scene.
Along with many area swimmers from Ryan, Guyer, Denton and Argyle, Pyrch will be competing at the Class 4A Region II swim meet today and Saturday in Fort Worth.
"I am extremely excited," she said. "I think I will compete well and I am definitely hoping to make it to state this year."
She reached the state meet last year in two relay events, but this year her chances are better in individual events.
She is the No. 1 seed in Region II in the 100-yard butterfly and the No. 3 seed in the 50 freestyle. Two weeks ago, she won the District 5-4A championship in the 100 butterfly and finished second in the 50 freestyle.
"She is a good butterfly and sprint swimmer," Denton ISD head coach Chris Cullen said. "She has developed quite a bit in the last year. Her strength training has overall helped her shoulder strength. She has been able to finish a lot stronger this year."
Pyrch is still developing physically, but mentally she is ahead of her class. She can thank her parents for that.
Her dad, who now heads the University of North Texas diving program, is a two-time national diving coach who spent almost 25 years as a diving coach at Yale. He also has international coaching experience.
Her mom, who is a diving coach at Austin College in Sherman, is a four-time Big East Conference diving champion.
"They are pretty awesome divers and teachers," Mikaela said of her parents. "And just being around them and the pool I have learned so much about competition."
Wait a second.
Why isn't Mikaela a diver?
"I have done it a little bit," she said. "But I totally felt pressure when I was diving. And I always liked swimming better. Diving isn't my thing. I want to be a world-class swimmer."
Dad and mom have no problem with that.
"It has always been her choice to do what she liked best," Jim Pyrch said. "She could have done any sport and we would have always supported her. She is a competitive person, period. She is a great student. She always is trying to get A's. She even played baseball on a boys team. She is always competitive with what she does."
She first made a splash on the Denton scene when she moved here from Minnesota two years ago when her dad got the UNT job.
"I was pretty excited when I heard we were moving to Texas because the swimming season is longer," she said. "Before I got here, my impression of Texas was cactus and tumbleweeds. Then I got here and I was like, 'Are you sure we are in Texas?'"
Cullen said Mikaela has been a big help to Ryan's swim team during the past two years because her individual events help add points to the team total. Plus, she is a big part of Ryan's 200 medley and 400 freestyle relay teams, which also will be competing at the regional meet.
"She has added depth to our team," Cullen said. "She has made all three relays become more successful. And her being able to win in the individual events have been big contributions."
She said she hopes to get a scholarship to swim or play water polo in college. Her dream school is California, but she wouldn't mind swimming for Texas, either.
"I just have to keep working at getting better at improving my times," she said. "I would love to compete in college like my parents."
How about coaching like your parents?
"It is not out of the question," she said. "I still have a lot to learn. I have learned a lot from my parents and I probably don't realize how much I have learned just sitting on pool decks watching them."
MATTHEW MUENCH can be reached at 940-566-6869. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org . REGIONAL QUALIFIERS
The following is a list of area participants in individual swimming events at this weekend's Class 4A Region II meet (higher seed first).
Girls 200 freestyle: Kimmy Phillips, Argyle; Christina Coon, Guyer
Boys 200 freestyle: Dawson Pritchard, Guyer
Girls 200 medley: Kathryn Ray, Ryan
Boys 200 medley: Robert Sutherland, Ryan; Chase Pritchard, Guyer
Girls 50 freestyle: Mikaela Pyrch, Ryan; Kathleen Gorman, Guyer; Hanna Hansen, Denton; Erin Hopkins, Guyer
Boys 50 freestyle: Kyle Mahan, Guyer; Robin Frei, Guyer
Girls 100 butterfly: Mikaela Pyrch, Ryan; Anna Reuter, Argyle; Erin Hopkins, Guyer
Boys 100 butterfly: Robert Sutherland, Ryan; Austin Bailey, Denton; Jacob Roghair, Guyer
Girls 100 freestyle: Kathleen Gorman, Guyer; Sabrina Carlile, Ryan; Hanna Hansen, Denton
Boys 100 freestyle: Kyle Mahan, Guyer
Girls 500 freestyle: Kathryn Ray, Ryan; Christina Coon, Guyer; Margaret Evans, Ryan
Boys 500 freestyle: Austin Bailey, Denton; Jacob Roghair, Guyer
Girls 100 backstroke: Kimmy Phillips, Argyle; Mandi Sutherland, Ryan
Boys 100 backstroke: Hunter Klein, Denton
Girls 100 breaststroke: Anna Reuter, Argyle; Sarah Carlile, Ryan; Allison Tester, Guyer; Reagan Fentress, Guyer
Boys 100 breaststroke: Dawson Pritchard, Guyer; Landon Skelton, Ryan; Robin Frei, Guyer