It was a crazy offseason.
It was a crazier preseason and it’s been an insane regular season for Chandler Niemeyer and the rest of the Brainerd Warriors swimmers and divers.
The craziest aspect of everything might be how Niemeyer has responded with some of the fastest times of her life.
“It was pretty difficult,” Niemeyer said about getting ready for the season. “We didn’t have our summer swim (because the Brainerd High School was under construction) and that put us back a lot. We usually practice from the beginning of June until the first week of August and then we take a two-week break and then we go into our season. We didn’t have that this year and everything was closed so none of us could do anything to get stronger.
“We were promised our pool by our third week of practice and we didn’t get that so we drove to Staples every day to swim there. We were supposed to have a meet the third week, a home meet, and that one got postponed to later October, but now we can’t have that because of the two-week break that we’re in right now.”
Despite the out-of-pool distractions, it’s been nothing but smooth sailing for Niemeyer in it.
She won the 100-yard freestyle in 59.44 and then captured the 100 breaststroke with a 1:15.08 in Brainerd’s blowout victory over Bemidji Tuesday, Sept. 22.
“Chandler, this is her fourth year on varsity, and she just gets better and better each year,” Warriors head coach Dan Anderson said. “She started out as a freshman wanting to give diving a shot and we had her doing some diving and swimming and eventually just converted her over to a full-time swimmer. Gosh, she’s only been a full-time swimmer for two years so that’s helped.
“She’s just a really good athlete. She was able to show up the first day in pretty good shape and pick up where she left off. She’s having a pretty good year.”
Between her two victories against Bemidji, she teamed with Macey Whitlock, Mya Tautges and Lexi Lugo for a first-place time of 1:50.53 in the 200 freestyle relay. Niemeyer was also on the second-place 200 medley relay with Ellie Mattson, Sophie Mattson and Ella Ostrowski.
“I’m at a 26.3 for my 50 free and for in-season, that’s pretty good for me,” Niemeyer said. “I was 0.8 seconds from making it to 1:14 for my 100 breaststroke. I wasn’t expecting to go this fast this year, but something just clicked in my head that you have to go fast. I wish that would have happened last year.”
In Brainerd’s 100-86 victory over Willmar Sept. 17, Niemeyer, Ellie Mattson, Mariah Alderson and Lugo combined to start the event with a first-place medley relay time of 1:59.56.
She then won the 50 free in 26.60 and placed second in the breaststroke with a 1:15.54. The foursome of Whitlock, Niemeyer, Tautges and Lugo placed second in the 200 free.
“Anderson put me in the breaststroke in 10th grade and he found out that I was actually somewhat good at it,” Niemeyer said. “Then he taught me how to do really good underwater pull-outs and that's basically what wins my race right there -- it’s good turns and good underwater pull-outs. I don’t have the fastest stroke by any means. I just have good turns and good pull-outs and that’s what most breaststrokers really struggle with because they’re tired by the second or third turn and pull-out. I just try to keep going as fast as I can and that's what gets me to win the race every time.”
She captured wins in the 50 free and the breaststroke in the Warriors’ 100-86 victory over St. Cloud Tech Sept. 15. She posted a 26.87 in the 50 and a 1:15.67 in the breaststroke.
She was also part of the first-place medley and 200 free relays.
In Brainerd’s lone loss this season, Niemeyer still won the breaststroke, was second in the 50 and helped the medley relay to first. The 200 free relay placed second.
“Strength equals power which equals speed in our sport,” Anderson said. “She has what it takes. The breaststroke is her best event though. She’s experienced at it. She knows what she’s doing. Her times are getting down there quite well. She was 1:15.0, which is way down from where she was last year so I’m excited to see what she can do at the end of the year.”
Last season, Niemeyer was the anchor on the medley relay team that placed fourth in the Section 8-2A finals. She was teamed with Ellie Mattson, Anna Just and Alderson. Now she’s swimming the breaststroke leg which she enjoys.
In that section meet, Niemeyer placed 16th in the 200 individual medley. She was ninth in the breaststroke and was part of the third-place 200 free relay with Whitlock, Hannah Tage and Jacquilyn Rude.
“She is a very good 200 IM swimmer, but she doesn’t really care for it and we had a hole in the 50, too, and we needed some help in that event so it just made sense to move her there,” Anderson said. “She swam when she was little on the YMCA Dolphin team so she had swimming experience. What she didn’t have was the fact she hadn’t really trained. That’s what we needed for her when she was splitting her time between diving and swimming. She just wasn’t getting enough training or yards under her belt. Once that she started getting the training in, she’s really taken off.”
Anderson believes some of Niemeyer’s best work this season has occurred away from competition. With all the distractions of not having a pool, the senior has been a strong captain for a young Warriors team.
“She’s done an amazing job,” Anderson said. “She’s a leader and is swimming well in practice. She stayed after practice with the younger kids teaching them things. We have such a young team and there is only one of me and so one day I asked Chandler to take some young girls and teach them how to do underwater pull-outs and Chandler did. I think the girls really responded.
“When we get back together I’m going to call on her some more.”
And Niemeyer is ready. She said it’s been a day-and-night change in the team culture this season and she’s happy to be a part of that.
“Last year, there was just a ton of drama on the team last year,” Niemeyer said. “This year, it was just like a switch. All the drama turned off and all the encouragement just turned on. I knew I had to be part of that encouragement because I am a senior captain. I talk to everyone. I encourage everyone and if I see something that doesn’t look right in the pool I try to correct them on it and they’ll get better at it. I just try to help everyone as best as I can.”
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 855-5856 or email@example.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jeremymillsop.
Other notable performances
Trenton Jackovich, boys soccer, scored the game-winning goal against Bemidji.
Brandon Neifert, boys soccer, collected five saves for a 1-0 shutout victory over Bemidji.
Lindsy Busch, girls tennis, scored a 6-1, 6-0 victory at No. 4 singles against Bemidji.
Emma Sheflo, girls soccer, scored two goals against Bemidji.
Mari Devine, girls soccer, scored two goals against Bemidji.
Mya Tautges, girls swimming and diving, won the 50-yard freestyle and 100 butterfly against Bemidji. She was also part of the winning 200 freestyle relay and 200 medley relay.
Sport: Swimming and diving
Position: Sprint freestyle, breaststroke, relays
Career highlight: Hit a 26.3 in 50-yard freestyle this year and was 0.8 away in the 100 breaststroke from making 1:14.
Other sports: Track and field
Favorite class: Interior design
Favorite food: Spaghetti
Favorite movie: “Secretariat”
Favorite TV show: “Outer Banks”
Favorite website or app: TikTok
Favorite restaurant: Taco Bell
Future plans: Attend college for interior design
Favorite athlete: Former teammate Isabelle Prozinski
Parents: Sheila and Corby Niemeyer