Mt. Ararat senior Cora Spelke swims during a virtual race earlier this season at the Wiscasset Community Center in Wiscasset. Photo provided by Candice Wright

 

TOPSHAM — Cora Spelke isn’t your average high school swimmer. The Mt. Ararat senior holds five — yes five — school records in the pool. With her high school swimming career winding down, Spelke is soaking it all in during this unusual season.

Spelke owns school records in the 200 freestyle (2:03.06), the 200 individual medley (2:19.72), the 100 butterfly (1:01.48), the 500 freestyle (5:32.09) and the 100 backstroke (59.56). She broke her own record in the 200 freestyle earlier this season, in Mt. Ararat’s first virtual meet of the season.

The records are even more impressive when one considers that Spelke missed a huge portion of her junior year because of a knee injury suffered during soccer season in October 2019.

“I was out from October until January when I was cleared to get back in the pool, but I wasn’t really feeling 100% until the summer,” said Spelke, who will attend Amherst (Massachusetts) College in the fall. “I wasn’t really able to fully practice until the YMCA opened back up in June, it felt so good to be truly back in the pool after such a long layoff.

“I think that now, with the amount of experience I have, it allows me to stay calm and focused before the races, rather than becoming anxious like I would tend to do in the past.”

When Spelke started swimming competitively 10 years ago at 8 years old, she never thought she’d reach this level of competitive swimming. Now, she swims for MTA and the Long Reach Swim Club, which is based in Bath.

“It’s pretty crazy to think how far I’ve come since I started so long ago, I have definitely surprised myself with how much I have accomplished so far” she said. “Being able to have that second practice with some extra racing experience has also been a factor for me and my improvement.”

Mt. Ararat swimmer Cora Spelke swims during a virtual race earlier this season at the Wiscasset Community Center in Wiscasset. Photo provided by Candice Wright

Spelke adjusted to the level of competition when she entered high school. She also learned what it took to help a team succeed.

“There’s more pressure for you to perform for your team, and you face a lot more different competition than the club meets,” said Spelke. “It was a big adjustment for me to focus more on the team aspect rather than just myself individually at first.”

This winter, high school swim teams are competing in virtual meets because of the pandemic. Spelke and the Eagles are embracing every opportunity they get to swim together.

“I’m still looking more experience because I missed out on so much last season,” said Spelke. “Obviously, the racing opportunities we have this year aren’t ideal, but it’s certainly better than nothing and I get to go through that preparation leading up to a meet and get my times down for next year.”

Spelke took a long look at schools in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC), including Bates, Bowdoin, and Colby, but ultimately felt she would be the most comfortable at Amherst. Spelke added that she enjoyed her conversation with Amerhst coach Nick Nichols.

Mt. Ararat swimmer Cora Spelke swims during a virtual race earlier this season at the Wiscasset Community Center in Wiscasset. Photo courtesy of Candice Wright

“The deciding factor aside from my academics was meeting with coach Nichols,” she said. “I really liked his coaching philosophy and could really picture myself on the team. I got to meet some of the other swimmers on the team who made me feel welcome. It just felt like a great fit for me.”

Spelke hopes to compete in the backstroke, as well as the 100 and 200 butterfly while at Amherst.

“Those are the events I have been working on, but I’ll be ready for almost anything they ask of me when I arrive on campus,” she said.

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