For Kat Simonovic, maybe it was fate or serendipity that she ended up winning the state 200 freestyle title three years in a row.
That also may help get Simonovic to the biggest stage of all - the Olympic Games in London next summer.
It all started in 2009 when Simonovic, as a freshman, entered the 200 free after her coach said it seemed to have less competition, except that Xavier's Haley Krakoski was the favorite that year. Krakoski is now competing at Auburn.
"Once I beat her, I got the confidence that has carried me for the last three years," Simonovic said of her freshman-year win.
Now a junior, Simonovic has won the event in each of her three high school seasons, and added an unlikely win in the 100 free in November to earn Tribune Girls Swimmer of the Year honors.
Simonovic trains for the distance swims and that is what she will concentrate on in workouts well into 2012 for her Olympic dream.
As the daughter of Serbian nationals, Simonovic holds dual citizenship and has competed for Serbia in international junior meets. There isn't another Serbian who is as fast as she is, so she could represent that country in the London Games next summer. She admits her times are not among the best in the world, yet.
"But to get a chance to go the Olympics would be a great experience," she said. "Just to see how far I could go - even if I finished in the top 30 in the world."
The road includes a grueling swimming/weightlifting training regimen and two big meets in early 2012 to qualify.
Simonovic says she "hates to lose" but doesn't mind the challenge.
That was the case in her other big state high school win: The 100 freestyle.
She said she was not in shape to compete in the other distance swim (the 500 free) coming into the fall and decided to try the 100 instead.
"You always have to confident going into a race," she said. "So I told myself I wouldn't want to race myself and everyone else would have to race me."
As opposed to the 200 free, where Simonovic said she knew many of the competitors from high school and club competitions, in the 100 free she didn't know who she was going up against.
She had the third-best preliminary time but powered past standout Maggie McCord (Tucson Canyon del Oro) and freshman phenom Victoria Toris of Pinnacle in the final for her second win of the day in a near all-American time of 51.02 seconds.
She has competed on the international level, there is something about Arizona high school swimming.
"I go to the national meets and the pressure is nowhere near what it is here," Simonovic said at the state meet. "Arizona swimmers, I don't know, we are just really into it. It's so high, the expectations and competition level."
All-Tribune First Team
Name Yr. School Event Comment
Mary Guevaras Jr. Desert Vista 50 Free Finished third, up from eighth a year ago
Samantha Getzen So. Notre Dame 100 Free Second in Division II in 100 butterfly as well
Kat Simonovic Jr. Mtn. View 200 Free Has won event three years in a row; also won 100
Carly Stevens Sr. Arcadia 500 Free Has won this event at state all four years
Megan Cox Sr. Chaparral 200 IM Two-time winner headed to LSU
Clara Jenck Jr. Mtn. Pointe 100 Back Won state meet event by more than a second
Madeline Wells Jr. Xavier 100 Breast Finished second in Division I meet
Samantha Guttmacher Jr. Mtn. View 100 Fly Won Division I state event, second in 50
Marlee Kersting Jr. Campo Verde Diving Won Division II title going away, scoring 436 points
Swimmer of the Year: Kat Simonovic, Mountain View
Coach of the Year: Erica McClurg, Arcadia: Led Titans to Division II title. It's the seventh straight year Arcadia has won or took second at a state meet.
All-Tribune Second Team
Name Yr. School Event Comment
Trinty Frazee Sr. Red Mtn. 50 Free Fourth in Division I
Victoria Toris Fr. Pinnacle 100 Free Led at the final turn, finished third in Division I
Alisha Bender Sr. Xavier 200 Free Fourth in Division I
Lexy Aichison Fr. Chaparral 500 Free Won state by 3seconds over veteran Megan Cox
Sarah Takach Fr. Horizon 200 IM Fifth in a loaded Division I final
Alexis Daswick Sr. Notre Dame 100 Back Third in Division II
Christina Valenzuela So. Xavier 100 Breast Third in Division I
Briana Jurries Jr. Valley Christian 100 Fly Defended her state title; also won 100 breaststroke
Chloe Hacker So. Corona del Sol Diving Two-time state champion
Lizzie Mangone, Sr., Arcadia, 200 IM; Kyra Tatlow, So., Westwood, diving; Talie Anchustegui, Sr., Xavier, 100 Fly; Meredith Klosterman, So., Notre Dame, 100 Back