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Hammer state-bound
New Glarus freshman Maddie Hammer of the Monroe-New Glarus swimming team qualified for state in the 100-yard freestyle and 100-yard breaststroke. Hammer is seeded ninth in the 100 freestyle and 11th in the breaststroke in the state meet Friday at the University of Wisconsin Natatorium. (Times photo: Anthony Wahl)
MONROE - For a teenage swimming sensation like Monroe-New Glarus freshman Maddie Hammer, closing her eyes in a visualization technique to calm her nerves before a race could lead her to the top of the school record board.

Hammer, 14, of New Glarus, enters the WIAA Division 2 state championships at 6:30 p.m. Friday at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Natatorium, knocking on the door of breaking a 15-year-old record in the 100-yard breaststroke. She plans to use visualization to her advantage.

"Before my race when I'm nervous I just close my eyes," Hammer said. "I try to focus on the technique things like my arms and turns. I try to calm myself down before swimming so I can do my best."

Hammer is seeded ninth in the 100-yard freestyle and 11th in the breaststroke. She is 0.41 seconds away from breaking Amber Ritschard's school record in the breaststroke (1 minute, 0.8 seconds), which was set in 1999.

"I would really like to break it (breaststroke record) at state," Hammer said. "In order to do it I have to work on my last 25 and work on my tempo to get faster.

"It (getting to state) is definitely something I wanted to do. It makes me happy and I want to show that even though I'm younger I can still do it. I really want to represent my team."

Monroe-New Glarus coach Linda Moser is confident that Hammer can make the adjustment by dropping time in her final 25 yards so she can break a breaststroke school record that has stood for more than a decade. Ritschard set the record before Hammer was even born.

"It's time for it (breaststroke record) to go," Moser said.

Shorewood senior Rachel Munson is looking to win a third straight state championship in the breaststroke and second straight title in the 200 individual medley. Munson owns the state record in the 100 breaststroke and the 200 IM.

"It's definitely a big honor," Hammer said. "It's great getting to swim against all of these amazing swimmers from other high schools. I really like the competition and the challenge."

Hammer swam the 200 IM at just about every dual meet this year, but opted to swim the 100 freestyle in the Division 2 Baraboo sectional.

"I had a better ranking in the 100 freestyle," she said.

Grafton senior Samantha Senczyszyn is looking to repeat state titles from last year in the 50 freestyle and the 100 freestyle. She set the Division 2 state record in the 50 freestyle and has the fastest qualifying time (24.06). She also has the fastest seed time in the 100 freestyle (52.80). The top seed in the 100 freestyle is New Berlin West senior Madison Tew (52.47). Although Hammer isn't in the fastest heat in the 100 freestyle or 100 breaststroke, she still has high expectations.

"I'm hoping to cut more time and hopefully get top eight," Hammer said. "I'm definitely surprised how far I have come over the years. I think if I worry about all the technical things like my arms and flip turns I can cut more time."

Moser isn't surprised by Hammer's success. Hammer started swimming competitively when she was 8 for the Green County Golden Gators and New Glarus.

"It's a huge accomplishment," Moser said of qualifying for state in two events. "It just shows the work Maddie has put in. Not just this year, but all of her years swimming. It has all paid off. It's an accumulation of many coaches and all of the hard work and hours she has put in. She's very intuitive of what she needs to improve. That is what sets her apart from other swimmers."

Hammer has swam in big meets before. This is her first state meet in high school.

"All of the glory and noise has to be shut out," Moser said. "It's a different feel. I want her to use the energy from the pool and meet to help her swim better. I don't want her to get more nervous."