Lake Norman & Mooresville

Freshman makes immediate impact

An 11-year-old Emily Allen had only been swimming competitively for about a year when she first swam for her future Hough coach, Tim Queen.

"I was yelling at her all the time; I had her crying a couple times. I felt bad," said Queen. "But I think it paid off."

Allen led the Lady Huskies to a 4A swimming and diving state championship earlier this month. The 15-year-old freshman not only won the 100-yard freestyle championship, while finishing second in the 50-yard freestyle race, but also was key in the 200-yard medley and 400-yard freestyle relay teams that also claimed state titles.

"She's improved phenomenally," said Queen. "The swims at the state meet were so fast - best times for her."

The coach, who has now led seven of his teams to state championships during his career, said that Allen is a talented swimmer.

"She doesn't have the prettiest stroke," he said. "But it's very efficient. She makes up for what she lacks in aesthetics with pure power. She's really a strong girl."

Queen added he and many of his swimmers knew of Allen and the potential she had. But seeing the 15-year-old accomplish so much and surpass all expectations has been a great feeling for Queen.

"That has been the icing on the cake," he said. "When a kid has one of those moments and takes off like that is nice to see as a coach."

Allen admits she didn't know what to expect coming into high school, but the year-round swimmer credits her coaches and teammates for helping her live up to her potential.

"They were so confident in me," she said. "Knowing that they thought I could do well helped me become more self-confident and swim faster."

Although Allen says she was nervous going into the state meet, she calmed her nerves after swimming strong times in the preliminary heats.

"I think I got more confident as the night went on," she said. "I think that helped a lot in my swims."

Having been to under-14 state meets with her club - although it isn't against the same level of competition - helped her at the 4A meet.

"It prepared her well," said Queen. "She was ready."

He added Allen sent a message with her performance in the 200-yard medley relay to open up the meet. Her 23.11 split was the fastest in the race - and even faster than some of the boys' times.

The relay team, which was also made up of Ali Kitchens, Ally Dupay (third in the 200-yard individual medley, fourth in 100-yard breaststroke) and Heather Merritt (second in the 200-yard freestyle and 100-yard backstroke), won the race with a 1:46.05.

Allen and Merritt were joined by Kathryn O'Brien and Payton Schrum (fourth in the 100-yard butterfly) in the 400-yard freestyle relay team that won the state championship with a 3:25.69 time.

Allen said she and her teammates were glad to help Hough win its first-ever team state title.

"We were so happy that we were able to represent our Lady Huskies so well," said Allen. "We know we made Tim and all of our coaches proud."

Queen quickly agreed..

"I was just really elated about the whole thing," he said. "From beginning to end, the girls were focused."

Blair Timberlake set the tone for the Lady Huskies, as she claimed the 1-meter diving title the day before Allen and the rest of the swimmers took the pool.

"That was a great momentum-builder to carry over," said Queen.

Hough's Charles Mitchell won the boys' diving championship.

Peter Brumm, who won the 200-yard freestyle title, and John Manchester (second in 500-yard freestyle) were also key for the Hough boys. The duo, who also were part of the title-winning 400-yard freestyle relay, along with Patrick Cowley and Andrew Botelho, led the way for the Huskies' second-place finish behind Providence.

Queen said that having the boys win the last event of the night - even though they knew they couldn't overtake the Panthers - said a lot about the team.

"We didn't give up," he said. "We raced until the bitter end."

Queen says the future is bright for Allen, who the coach sees getting national attention from colleges as focuses on conditioning.

Although Allen is cherishing the fun and the success she had at her first state meet, she's already looking forward.

"I'm excited to go into next season only losing a couple of seniors," she said. "And seeing what else we can do."