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West Branch, Crestview swimmers have eyes on state

The past four years, Rachel Klem has made the trip west from the heart of Columbiana County to Canton and the C.T. Branin Natatorium.

The Crestview High School senior has seen former Division II 100-yard breaststroke state champion Jamyson Robb, a West Branch High School senior, for the last four years.

“We have always pushed each other at every swim practice,” Klem said. “We swim the same events, so we always train together. The workouts we swim are very intense and it really helps when you have someone there pushing you to work to your fullest potential. The workouts go by faster, and you do not think about your pain as much. Over the years we grew closer, and having a training partner is the best way to train at an elite level.”

The two head to the Division II district swim meet at Cleveland State University today to vie for places at the state meet in Canton at the C.T. Branin Natatorium. Klem, who is swimming at Ohio University next season, didn’t make it to state last season.

Both are swimming in the breaststroke and 200 individual medley.

“Rachel is an awesome swimmer,” Robb said. “She’s a really hard worker, and it’s been really fun swimming with someone who I’ve been friends with since my freshmen year. We push each other in practice every day and help each other get better.”

Klem’s eye is on the state meet.

“I have worked extremely hard to make it to states this year,” she said. “I have been swimming for 24 weeks straight. I have not taken any days off this season. I have been so determined to drop time in my 100 breaststroke and 200 individual medley. I would stay after my 2-hour workout and focus on my details and swim extra yardage. I swim a total of 6,000-11,000 yards a day. I have also lifted more weights this year. I have lost 15 pounds this year from working out at a higher intensity. I also stay away from prepackaged foods and sweets. I consume up to six eggs a day with yogurt, nuts and fruit. I eat meat every day so I have more energy and protein for my body. I am in top physical shape this year, and I have done everything possible to make it to states.”

Robb, who will swim at Liberty University next season, is looking to repeat as state champion in the breaststroke. She swam 1:02.14 at the Northeast Classic.

She’s looking to break her record from last year of 1:01.38.

“In order to swim a perfect 100 breaststroke, my start has to be perfect,” Robb said. “My stroke count on each lap has to be perfect. My turns have to be clean and fast, and I have to make sure I keep my kick strong the whole time. Breaststroke is the hardest stroke to say efficient in, and staying efficient is the key.”

Klem is looking forward to today’s experience at CSU.

“The atmosphere at districts is very hype,” she said. “There is a ton of energy. I have been swimming at Cleveland State since I was 7 years old for USA swimming, so I am very familiar with the pool and atmosphere. It is a very nice natatorium with a huge pool. I feel very excited when I swim at Cleveland State, and I am super pumped for (today.).”