Prep swimming: Fairfield’s Otten eyes state hardware

Fairfield High School senior Emma Otten had three top-10 finishes in the recent Southwest Ohio High School Swimming and Diving Classic. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY TERRI CALLA PHOTOGRAPHY

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Fairfield High School senior Emma Otten had three top-10 finishes in the recent Southwest Ohio High School Swimming and Diving Classic. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY TERRI CALLA PHOTOGRAPHY

South Carolina recruit has placed top 5 in the 100-yard backstroke the last two years

Emma Otten has always loved the water.

Even before the Fairfield High School senior could swim, she was testing out the ocean on a family vacation when she was still 1 year old. Otten said she ran right in and pushed along another kid who didn’t want to go with her.

Otten began swimming competitively at age 6, and the years in the water have paid off. She committed to the University of South Carolina in September and hopes to finish off an impressive high school career with a couple of state medals this season.

“All my siblings swim, but I’m the oldest,” Otten said. “My dad swam in high school for Elder, and he kind of passed it along. I just fell in love with the sport.”

Otten, who mostly trains with her Countryside YMCA club team during high school season, placed fourth in the 100-yard backstroke at the Ohio High School Athletic Association Division I state meet last year and was fifth in the event as a sophomore, when she also qualified and finished 18th in the 100 butterfly.

She was the first alternate in the 100 fly last year and is looking for a little redemption this year. The Greater Miami Conference meet is Feb. 4 at Mason, and the postseason begins the following week with sectionals.

“Last year at districts I didn’t have the best meet, and I have a feeling it will be a lot better this time,” said Otten, who is headed to YMCA Nationals after the high school season ends. “I made it sophomore year (in the fly) and got the 26th spot last year, so I was the first alternate.

“I’ve trained a lot more in the fly this year, so I’m more confident going into it and more mentally prepared. There are a lot of butterflies that are fast, but I’m up for the challenge.”

The butterfly has always been Otten’s second stroke, so the event doesn’t carry as much weight for her emotionally, but coming up short after making it to state in the event as a sophomore left a bitter taste she wants to erase.

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Fairfield High School senior Emma Otten is hoping to return to the Division I state swim meet this season. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY TERRI CALLA PHOTOGRAPHY

Fairfield High School senior Emma Otten is hoping to return to the Division I state swim meet this season. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY TERRI CALLA PHOTOGRAPHY

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Fairfield High School senior Emma Otten is hoping to return to the Division I state swim meet this season. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY TERRI CALLA PHOTOGRAPHY

Fairfield coach Craig Reed said Otten seems poised for a strong postseason run.

“She’s an extremely hard worker,” Reed said. “She practices six days a week and gives everything she has when she is swimming. She’s dedicated. She is extremely determined. Her goal this year is to redeem herself from last year at the state finals, and she’s looking good to do so.

“She’s really working on things that kept her from qualifying last year (in the fly), working on strokes and on turns. She thinks she will be able to drop that time in order to qualify, and once she is rested up in the next couple weeks, I think we’ll see all that hard work pay off.”

Otten said her goal is to swim a 56-second time in the fly, but low 57s should be enough to get to state. Though she has worked to improve in that event, her focus will still be on her main event, the 100 back.

The senior is coming off a strong performance at the Southwest Ohio High School Swimming and Diving Classic on Jan. 14-15, where she placed second in the 100 back (56.59 seconds), ninth in the 200 back (2:02.32) and 10th in the 50 free (24.96) at the highly competitive meet.

For a non-taper meet, Otten was pleased with the results. Her 200 back time, though only good for ninth, was two seconds off the meet record, and her 100 back time was just one second off her personal best.

“I’m confident I’ll be at 54 seconds (in the 100 back) by the end of the season,” Otten said. “My goal is to win districts hopefully, and I just want to see how high I can place at state. Ultimately, the goal is to win state, but the northeast has some really fast swimmers, so it’s going to be hard, but I feel I have the capability of doing it.”

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