Last year, an aspiring swim and dive team from Waukee finally made it to the top of the mountain.
The Warriors won their first-ever state swimming and diving championship in 2021, scoring 357 points ahead of defending champion Ames, 97 points for the title. Waukee and Waukee Northwest will be split into two separate programs in 2023, so the Warriors were looking for a big addition in their final season as a combined program.
They’ve managed to do just that thanks to a stacked roster put together by head coach Shelley Twigg, who has overseen the Waukee girls’ swim and dive program since its inception. The Warriors repeated themselves as state champions in 2022 with an even more impressive performance, winning six events and scoring 402 points to win the meeting by 134.5 points over Dowling Catholic. They are the first team in Iowa history to surpass 400 points.
This outstanding performance earned Twigg the All-Iowa Coach of the Year award for the second year in a row from the Des Moines Register for girls in swimming and diving.
More:Waukee girls repeat as Iowa High School state swimming and diving champions
“We were delighted to be back this year and to have our second straight state win was incredible,” said Twigg. “I think the girls worked really hard in the off-season and came back and were even better this year. It was just great to get so many girls into the finals and to have the opportunity to score a lot of points and become state champions again.”
Despite his comfortable state victory, Waukee faced numerous challenges this fall.
“This year we have overcome illness and injury,” said Twigg. “We had swimmers swim at different events than last year. We persevered through many things and that makes this one even cuter.”
But thanks to Twigg’s ability to masterfully assemble Waukee’s loaded roster over the past two seasons, seven different swimmers earned a gold medal for the Warriors at the state meeting.
The relay competition was a foregone conclusion. Waukee won all three seasons by a margin of at least 1.45 seconds.
“We had so much flexibility,” Twig said. “The girls could definitely swim. They had their favorites but there were so many opportunities for them to swim different things and still be really good.”
With uncertainty about the future of the swim program following the school’s breakup, Twigg wanted her swimmers to soak it all up at the conclusion of the Nov. 12 state convention in Marshalltown.
‘Last lap,’ said Twigg. “It’s bittersweet. I don’t want to lose any of my girls. I want to be able to coach everyone but there will be a split in the fall so we’ll just enjoy it.”
At the time of the state meeting, Twigg wasn’t sure which Waukee school she would be coaching at in 2023. But she has been dedicated to service to Waukee since the beginning of the Waukee Rays youth swim program, which has now made way for the larger and more prestigious DMSY program. She wants both schools to be successful and said she will be happy wherever she ends up.
“Either way,” said Twigg. “I love Waukee and the whole community.”