Rachel Smith will be very busy at the MSHSAA State Swimming and Diving Championships.


Smith, the head coach of the Hannibal Lady Pirates swim team, leads a team that has nearly doubled its State qualifiers from last season. After competing in just three events in the State finals last season, Hannibal has a chance to swim in three relays and four individual events.


Rachel Smith will be very busy at the MSHSAA State Swimming and Diving Championships.

Smith, the head coach of the Hannibal Lady Pirates swim team, leads a team that has nearly doubled its State qualifiers from last season. After competing in just three events in the State finals last season, Hannibal has a chance to swim in three relays and four individual events.

A season that started in early December is winding down for the Lady Pirates. With just weeks to go before the Feb. 19 to Feb. 20 State finals, Hannibal is in the midsts of the dog days of the season. Hours upon hours that have already been put in the pool will be ramped up as the season winds down. But the carrot hanging in front of the team to keep working is what could happen at State. For seven swimmers, punching a ticket to the meet has already been done.

Hannibal has just four meets for the 2009-10 season. Despite limited time in the water at meets, the Pirates have gotten things done.

For the first time in school history, the Pirates have qualified all three relays for the season-ending meet. The 200-yard freestyle relay and the 200-yard individual medley have qualified in the past, but this year will be the first time the 400-yard freestyle relay will have a crack at a State Title.

Smith said the relay lineups for all but the 400-yard freestyle are still up in the air. Allie Land, Tessa Bienick, Meredith Voss and Samantha Cockrell are slated to swim the 400-free.
Voss and Cockrell also will be going to State for individual events. Voss, a junior, qualified for the 50-yard freestyle for the first time in her high school career. Cockrell will be going to State to swim in the 100-yard backstroke. She qualified last season, but was too sick to attend the meet. This year she should be good to go.

Kay Gieseke will also be making her first trip to State. She will be on a relay lineup and will swim in the 50-yard freestyle and the 100-yard freestyle.

JaLynn Gieseke and Rebekah Land will be the vets making the trip. The duo will be competing in the 50-free together and on relays. JaLynn will also swim in the 100-yard butterfly while Land will race in the 100-yard backstroke.

With all the races qualified, Hannibal could make noise and improve on its ninth place finish from last season.

“I know we can bump up, but the question is how much can we bump up,” Smith said. “I don’t know. I’m hoping like six, but then other people are hoping for fourth. The thing is, you have to have three relays go top-8 to be in the top-8 at State. If you have one relay that’s not top-8, then to be in those top teams, it’s hard.”

But even with all the excitement about the state qualifications, the event is still a while away. For now, Smith’s attention is spent on making sure the girls keep working hard.

“Those girls think about State and stay motivated, and I do, too,” Smith said. “I just try to stay on top of everything because it’s going to be fun.”