Hunter Rogers may only be a sophomore on the Jay M. Robinson swimming team, but she's already one of the best swimmers in the area.
Rogers won two individual titles at the South Piedmont Conference meet last month and led the Bulldogs to claim the 200- and 400-yard freestyle relay championships on her way to being named SPC girls' Swimmer of the Year.
"I was honored and excited to get that," said Rogers. "I felt like it was a great accomplishment to add on to what I'm going to do and what I have done."
She competed in last weekend's regionals and hopes to keep that momentum at Saturday's 3A state meet.
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"States is like the icing on the cake - that's what everyone is waiting for," said Rogers.
And it's not just the opportunity to compete against North Carolina's top swimmers.
"We all bond as a team," said Rogers. "We are all excited about that."
That bonding proccess includes girls who made it to state getting maroon hair extensions, while the boys will get mohawks for the meet. But fun and games aside, Rogers has high goals for herself.
"Placing at states and getting our relay teams to place at states would be great," she said.
Rogers is capable of that and more.
As a freshman last season, Rogers broke three individual Bulldog records - in the 100-yard butterfly as well as in the 200 and 500 freestyle. She also was part of the 200- and 400-yard freestyle relay teams that set school records last year.
Heading into regionals, Rogers, who again will be swimming the 200 and 500 free at states, set a new 500-yard freestyle record, improving her time by more than a second.
Rogers even holds the Cabarrus County 200-yard freestyle record.
Bulldogs coach Beverly Kopelic can see her only getting better.
"She's definitely getting faster, stronger," said Kopelic. "I think she's also branching out - she likes to do the distance, the 200 and the 400, but she's also a great sprinter."
She said Rogers should keep improving as her self-confidence catches up with her body.
"Swimming is as much mental as anything else," said Kopelic. "It requires a level of confidence that just comes with age."
Rogers knows that's true.
"Once you start getting older, you realize that you have to put in the effort to get out what you want," she said.
Last season, Rogers said, she let nerves get the better of her at states, false-starting in the 200-yard freestyle. But she adjusted to the pressure, going on to finish fifth in the 500-yard freestyle.
Rogers was also in the 400-yard relay team - along with Addison White, Katy Gilbert and Jessica Gomez - that finished fifth in the state, and on the 200 relay team - with White, Alex Kirk and Julia Greer - that placed seventh. The Lady Bulldogs finished sixth at the state meet. The boys placed fourth.
Kopelic said Rogers has a chance to make an impact at the state meet this weekend.
"When you put her in a tough competition event, she can dig deep and pull out some good races," said Kopelic.
In addition to all the work she's put in to become a better swimmer - swimming year-round with SwimMAC since she was 7 - Kopelic attributes Rogers' success to her drive, focus and competitiveness.
"She takes it seriously," said Kopelic, adding the 15-year-old's attitude helps the team as a whole. "That pushes some kids around her to do the same."
The Bulldogs had another dominant regular season, as the boys and girls both finished a perfect 11-0 and swept the SPC meet.
Kopelic said she couldn't be more proud of the way her team performed and the attitude her swimmers have shown.
"When we won the conference meet, it reminded me of states last year - they were so focused as a team and they knew what they had to do," she said.
"They were incredible; there were some boys that took two, three seconds off their fastest times."
Apart from Rogers, White has also been a boost for the girls' team, while Chad Heiser, the SPC boys' Swimmer of the Year, has led the way for the boys.
Regardless of how this weekend's meet goes, Rogers is excited about her future.
"I know I can get much better than I am right now, but that's going to take some work," she said. "We'll see where this takes me."