Last year, Pine Lake Prep sophomore Alyssa Marsh set records while winning a pair of individual-event titles at the North Carolina public schools state swimming championships.
Now a junior and one of the state’s top high school swimmers, Marsh doesn’t feel any pressure to better her performances from last year’s state meet.
“Not really,” Marsh said. “I’m going to look back on my high school career and all that I accomplished as a whole. I don’t feel pressure to re-break those records. I’d love to do that, but I’d rather place high.”
Placing high in swim meets is commonplace for Marsh, who is ranked second in the state and 19th nationally in her class by national website CollegeSwimming.com.
She won her first state title as a freshman, taking the girls’ 100-yard backstroke at the N.C. High School Athletic Association 1A/2A state championships.
Marsh bettered that last spring, repeating as state champion in the 100 backstroke and adding a state title in the girls 100-yard butterfly, both won in state-record times.
Her time of 53.72 seconds in the 100 butterfly obliterated the 1A/2A state record of 55.21 seconds set in 2006, and beat the all-classifications record of 54.68 seconds set in 2012. In the 100 backstroke, Marsh’s time of 54.86 broke a 5-year-old 1A/2A state record.
“Last year, I was feeling pretty great that week,” Marsh said. “Going into states, I had a little bit of momentum. Hopefully, that same thing will happen again. I’d love to go faster. That’d be great.
“Sometimes in practices, you have really great weeks, and that was one of them. I remember going faster than I would’ve ever expected in practice, and feeling really great.”
The momentum from Marsh’s state championships carried over into her summer swimming program with the elite-level program SwimMAC, where her father, David Marsh – who has coached swimmers like Olympic gold medalists Ryan Lochte and Cullen Jones – is the CEO and director of coaching.
Alyssa Marsh made it into the finals in three major swim meets: the U.S. Nationals (50-yard freestyle and 50-yard butterfly), the Summer Junior Nationals (100 butterfly), and the Speedo Short-Course Championships (50-, 100- and 200-yard freestyle, 100- and 200-yard backstroke, and 100- and 200-yard butterfly).
“Yeah, a lot of swimming,” Marsh said. “I did pretty well. I made a few finals at the Nationals, so it was good.”
Now that she’s back with Pine Lake Prep’s swim team readying for the coming season – the Pride’s first meet is Dec. 3 at the Statesville YMCA – Marsh is thinking a little more about the team.
“At SwimMAC, we’re a pretty dominating program. … But when you’re in the water, you’re pretty much swimming for yourself and your time,” Marsh said. “At high school, its more about representing your team. It’s a different feeling when you’re wearing that Pine Lake (swim) cap than when you’re wearing that SwimMAC cap.”
Since Marsh joined Pine Lake Prep’s team, it’s made significant strides at the state level, going from a ninth-place team finish at the 2013 championships to fourth last year.
“We can only control what we can,” said Kristin Marsh, Alyssa’s mother and Pine Lake Prep’s coach. “We can bring our best to the state meet and perform the best that we can.
“We’ve got the addition of a new freshman class, and we’ve added some divers to the program this year, so we’ll see what happens.”