GREEN COVE SPRINGS - Clay High senior swimmer Sara Stotler, fresh off a state gold medal in the 100 butterfly and a silver in the 200 individual medley, talked about records, titles and her choice …
GREEN COVE SPRINGS - Clay High senior swimmer Sara Stotler, fresh off a state gold medal in the 100 butterfly and a silver in the 200 individual medley, talked about records, titles and her choice after just one phone call to sign a letter of intent to continue swimming at the University of Tennessee. Stotler was interviewed prior to her signing day on November 12.
“They were the first school to contact me at 11:59 p.m. or midnight on June 17,” said Stotler. “They told me they not only wanted me for the athlete that I am but for the person I am, on and off the deck. That meant a lot to me.”
Tennessee, the 2019-20 women’s swimming Southeastern Conference champions, had three individual champions and won three relay titles. The NCAA championships were cancelled because of the COVID pandemic.
In the past five years. the Tennessee womens’ swim team has had five top five finishes in the SEC with a second in 2015 with a 13th at NCAAs, a fourth in 2016 with a 22nd at NCAAs, a third in 2017 with a seventh at the NCAAs, a fourth in 2018 and last year’s team title.
At the 2020 FHSAA Class 2A championship meet, Stotler said her gold medal performance was a little more about remembering the final state meet for herself. Stotler had won the 100 butterfly in 2018 with two silver medals last year; 200 IM and 100 butterfly.
Stotler’s gold medal performance came with little fanfare as she delivered a record performance while winning handily over the second place finisher.
“Going in to state, I was really shooting for a 52, but my 53.3 was crazy fast and a new lifetime best time,” said Stotler, who took the record from Sherridon Dressel, who owned a handful of the Clay records prior to Stotler with the 100 free Kaitlyn Dressel’s.”I swam on Friday at nationals and the state meet was on Saturday.”
In the 100 butterfly race, Stotler won handily, but more recalled her path to the second gold medal.
“I wasn’t really focusing on winning, but embracing the moment, enjoying being there with my family and teammates,” said Stotler. “The announcer introduced my family prior to the swim which made it even more special.”
Next up for Stotler is to get to the 2021 U.S. Olympic SwimTrials in Omaha.
“Now that high school swimming is done, I’m focusing on the U.S. Olympic Trials,” said Stotler. “That’s the next step. I’m hoping to do well at this one, then come back in 2024 a little stronger with some college racing under my belt.”
Stotler will follow the footsteps of another Clay High swimming family, the Dressels with Caeleb, now the hottest swimmer in the world with multiple world and Olympic titles on top of stratospherically fast world records, Kaitlyn Dressel, a standout at FSU and now swim coach at Tallahassee Maclay, and Sherridon Dressel, a recent University of Florida grad like brother Caeleb, who is a professional swimmer in the International Swim League. All three Dressel were swimmers at the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials. Sherridon Dressel, who was set to swim in three events at the NCAAs last year, holds the second fastest backstroke and butterfly times for Florida.