Originally, Sun Prairie sophomore Sophie Fiske didn’t want to be a swimmer.
“I first started swimming when I was about eight or nine” years old, Fiske said. “My best friend got me into it. I didn’t even want to be a swimmer. I didn’t want to do any sports at all.”
Today, as a freestyle sprinter, Fiske’s goal isn’t much different: She wants to get in and out of the water as quickly as possible. But she now competes with the passion and intensity of a swimmer enthralled with the sport.
Fiske, who holds the second-fastest 50 freestyle (:23.64) and 100 freestyle (:51.80) times in the state this year, said the atmosphere at Sun Prairie built up her devotion to swimming and success in the program.
“I think the team camaraderie is so much fun,” Fiske said. “It was all just brand new, and I loved it. Now (swimming) is a huge part of my life.”
Less than two years into her high school swimming career, Fiske already is shattering records. The sophomore broke Sun Prairie’s pool records in the 50 freestyle (23.64) and 100 freestyle (51.80) this year. She also helped break the pool record in the 200 medley relay (1:47.95) along with teammates Cassidy Carey, Janelle Schulz and Michaela Nelson.
Fiske also set pool records at Madison West in the 100 freestyle (:52.18) and at Janesville Craig in the 50 freestyle (:24.12).
Fiske’s freshman season was impressive. At the 2017 WIAA Division 1 state meet, she placed third in the 50 freestyle (:23.51) and fourth in the 100 freestyle (:51.43), and was part of the fourth-place 400 freestyle relay and sixth-place 200 freestyle relay teams. Since then, Sun Prairie coach Nancy Harms says, Fiske shows continuous improvement.
“She has grown so much,” Harms said. “Emotionally, her competitive spirit, and her security and confidence as a swimmer. She was like a little deer in the headlights last year. … She’s not that way anymore.”
Fiske’s confidence shows not only in improved times, but also in her place in the Cardinals’ relay teams. Harms said Fiske rarely wanted to swim the anchor leg last year, but this year she has taken the initiative to place herself in those pressure situations.
“Last year she didn’t want to be the anchor, she always wanted to lead off,” Harms said. “(Now) she’s like the closer. We’ve got that big dog pitcher coming in to finish up the job.”
While Fiske’s success shows in the results and record books, she rarely talks about what she has accomplished. Instead, she focuses on how she can improve.
“I have a lot that I could work on, but mainly (it’s) my starts and my finishes,” Fiske said. “I’m usually the slowest one off the blocks, but this season I’ve started to get up and shoot off the blocks with everyone else.”
Harms said she believes that if Fiske continues to train with the drive and intensity she has shown in her first two seasons at Sun Prairie, anything is possible for the young swimmer.
“Barring any injury or setbacks, I would expect she’s probably going to be a three-time state champion in the 50 free and three-time state champion in the 100 free,” Harms said. “With caution, I would say that she will be an Olympic trials qualifier. I would venture to guess that she will end up on an Olympic team.”
Fiske and Sun Prairie will compete in the talent-loaded Middleton sectional at 1 p.m. Saturday, along with two-time defending state champion Middleton, state sixth-ranked Madison West and ninth-ranked Verona/Mount Horeb.