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Sougstad off to hot start

BY SHELBY STITES | OCTOBER 16, 2014 5:00 AM

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Hawkeye sophomore swimmer Emma Sougstad entered the pool when she was 5 years old, and 14 years later, she is still in the water.

It started as a hobby, swimming in a recreation four-lane pool across the street from her house in order to swim like her two older brothers, Randy and Willie.

“Eventually, I was able to compete with the other kids, and that is when my love for swimming began,” she said.

This passion for the water continued into her high school years, when she was a member of the Mason City girl’s swimming team and a 10-time All-American, 11-time first-time all-state honoree, and three-time second-team all-state honoree.

Sougstad’s name became known and sent her on a path to Iowa City, where she now holds school records in the 100 breaststroke and 200-medley relay after only one season as a Hawkeye.

But a wall builds up when they call her name to compete in the 200-meters individual medley.

“I don’t know exactly why the 200 scares me, but it has always been that way,” Sougstad said. “This season, my fear will change. Just like a fear of heights, I need to be uncomfortable and face it.”

But with the support of her teammates and coaches before and after racing the 200, she feels that wall slowly crashing down.

“My coaches have been talking to me about this and trying to understand my thinking process behind how I feel behind the blocks before my race,” Sougstad said. “My coach, Kristy, had a plan for me right after the Michigan meet, and I trust her fully.”

Trust in her team and coaches will allow Sougstad to regain her confidence in the race.

Senior teammate Becky Stoughton revealed her strategy as captain to keep her team focused on beating the girl next to them.

“I try to make it as serious and as lighthearted at the same time,” Stoughton said. “Keeping everyone motivated and ready for the day is all that needs to be said.”

This idea will remain in the mind of Sougstad as she competes to win throughout the rest of the season. She said keeping an open mind for the race is pivotal to her success.

“I don’t want to box myself into specific expectations,” Sougstad said. “I think if I keep working hard each and every day, fun things will happen.”

By continuing to work her way up in the rankings, Sougstad is on her way to becoming a Hawkeye to remember.

“It’s fun to watch,” head coach Marc Long said after the Hawkeye’s first meet of the season. “She is preparing for the championship season at the end of the year and it is exciting to see.”

The fears and discomforts will not stop her from swimming for the people that have been put in her path along the way, Sougstad said.

“I’m going to work hard and bring my teammates up with me, even though they are already there,” Sougstad said. “They are the ones that push me every day in every set, and I think it will be an exciting season for each one of the Hawkeye swimmers.”


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