For the past two years, Ariana Dirkzwager has paced the deck at the Kansas state swim meet with one thought on her mind.
“I just want to win state,” she said. “That’s all I want.”
She will get her first chance in 2019 alongside her sister Astrid, one of the best swimmers in Kansas. The bad news for the rest of the state: Ariana, a freshman, is already beating her sister at times.
At East’s first meet of the season, the sisters raced in the 100 freestyle. Astrid told her sister to go, “all out.” Astrid touched first 0.8 seconds ahead.
Her junior sister is already up to three individual state titles, including relays, and a pair of team titles. And she has two state meets to go.
2017: 200 free (1 minute, 50.40 seconds), 100 back (55.33)
2018: 200 free relay (1:36.77 (state record)), 100 back (55.85), 400 free relay (3:32.99)
East coach Joe Hutchinson said he doesn’t know whether Ariana will hit those same marks her freshman year but she certainly has the potential.
“Their impact is going to be much, much deeper than just how fast they are,” Hutchinson said. “They are so ingrained into the culture at East and Wichita in general. Kids say, ‘Oh, gosh, I have to race Astrid or Ariana,’ but they are just such great kids that it’s almost fun.”
Saturday, East won the Northwest Invitational which had some of the best teams in Kansas like Kapaun, Carroll and Andover. The Aces beat the field by 60.5 points.
The Dirkzwagers combined for seven wins in 12 events. Ariana won the 200-yard individual medley and 500-yard freestyle. In the 500 free, she out-touched Bishop Carroll senior Lexie Shelton, who won the Class 5-1A state title in that event last year.
Her time in the 200 IM would have finished seventh at least year’s Class 6A meet, and the Aces started the season only a couple of weeks ago.
“I really think she’s going to be better than me,” Astrid said. “She is such a complete racer.”
Astrid said she has ambitions of reaching Division I swimming and has already been contacted by some of the best swim programs in the U.S., including Texas, TCU and Missouri.
That seems to be a near certainty, but her biggest goal is to earn an Olympic trial time for the 2020 Summer Olympics.
Together, the Dirkzwagers will likely account for the most points on the East state roster. But the Aces are already deeper than they were in last year’s title-winning season.
East brings back some of the best swimmers in the Wichita area, including senior Katerina Savvides, senior Gillian Pierce-Butt and sophomore Baylor McPherson. The Dirkzwagers are icing on the cake toward what would be a third straight state championship.
“My sister is my main competition,” Ariana said. “We have both been swimming for the longest time, since we were about 4. She tells me to go faster all the time, and I know that’s what’s best for me.”