Lincoln Southwest will rely on leadership from senior Alana Palmer in its quest to win a third consecutive state high school swim team title this season.
Palmer has won a dozen gold and silver medals (six individual and six relay) at the state swimming and diving meet since her freshman year.
“Last year at state, Alana won the 200 free (in a state record 1:48.74), was second in the 50 free and was a member of the record 200 medley relay (ranked second nationally) and 400 free relay,” said Southwest’s head swim coach, Leigh Ann Fetter-Witt.
'Good chance' to repeat
“My goal is to help lead the team to another state championship,” said Palmer. “I don’t want to sound cocky, but I think we have a really good chance. Losing people like Olivia Calegan (now swimming for North Carolina State) and Clara Walstad (now a Husker swimmer) from last year’s team will take a huge toll, but we’re still a strong team with some strong relays.”
Returning upperclassmen are seniors Shelby Mullendore (verbally committed to San Jose State’s swim team) and Kaitlyn Witt (committed to Kansas University), and juniors Berkeley Livingston and Anna Heinrich.
Individually, Palmer wants to lower her state-record time in the 200 freestyle and improve in all her races. “Beyond that, I just want to have a good senior year and have fun with it,” she said.
On to Wisconsin
After she graduates from Lincoln Southwest, Palmer is committed to becoming a Wisconsin Badger swimmer.
“On my visit in June, I loved it automatically,” she said. “I wasn’t expecting to commit that early, but I felt a real connection with the team. When I went back the second time in September, that just reaffirmed it for me. The coaches there are amazing, and I love the team and the campus.”
Palmer said she hasn’t decided on an academic major, but she’s leaning toward a medical degree. She is a USA Swimming Scholastic All-American and holds an academic letter and pin from Lincoln Southwest. Her GPA is a weighted 4.1.
She plans to focus on the 50, 100 and 200 freestyle races at Wisconsin, and “I’ll do a little backstroke on the side,” she said.
While growing up in Lincoln, Palmer joined the Greater Nebraska Swim Team (GNST) program at age 8 and later swam for the Lincoln Select Swimming team. She credits swimming “a lot of yardage” in difficult select swimming practices for helping her develop endurance.
What is her most memorable moment so far in swimming? “Getting the state record in the 200 free for Southwest, and getting out of the pool and hugging my teammates,” she said. “I’ll remember that for a while!”