There are specialists in swimming, the athletes who stay focused on one particular stroke and distance. And there are the versatile, do-it-all swimmers who can master every stroke, opening up a world of possibilities at a competition.
Consider Shoreham-Wading River sophomore Emily Herr in the latter category.
A standout in the pool who burst onto the scene as an eighth-grader in 2021 by winning her first county title, Herr secured eight automatic state qualifying times this season, each in a different event. Given the opportunity, she’d swim all day at a meet like Sunday’s Section XI Championships at Stony Brook University.
Rules limit swimmers to a pair of events, so Herr focused on the 200-yard freestyle and 500-yard freestyle.
She added to her trophy case by swimming to first place in both events. She swam the 200 first and completed the race in 1 minute, 51.5 seconds to finish ahead of second-place finisher Kate O’Brien of Babylon (1:55.58). In the 500, she swam 5:04.22, well ahead of second-place finisher Erica Czeremcha of Half Hollow Hills-Kings Park (5:18.18).
Herr had the top seed times in both events, making her the favorite going in.
Taylor Anderson, the swim coach for SWR, said Herr thrives in a situation where she’s the favorite.
“When she’s the top seed or No. 1 going into an event, that just kind of fuels her,” Anderson said. “She hates losing. I think she likes that pressure.”
Herr posted her top time in the 500, shaving about three seconds off her previous best. In the 200, she swam right about at her best mark on the year. Anderson said Herr had set a goal of a sub-1:50 time.
“She still [swam] her best time, I know she was happy with that even though it wasn’t 100% what she wanted,” she said.
The state swimming and diving championships will be held Nov. 18-19 at Webster Aquatic Center near Rochester.
Herr plans to swim different events at the state meet, likely the 200 individual medley and the 100 breaststroke.
“She swam the 200 IM [at states] last year so I think she wants to see what she can this year,” Anderson said. “100 breast, I want to say she’s top five or six in the state right now. I think she’s looking to at least get on the podium in 100 breast up there.”
The 200 IM allows her to showcase her versatility in an event that requires all four strokes.
“She’s so solid in all her strokes,” Anderson said. “Her backstroke, which has always been her weakest stroke, has come so far over the past year or two.”
She said Herr has a “phenomenal breaststroke,” which a key in the IM event.
Herr competes as an independent swimmer for SWR under Anderson, but trains out of Three Village Swim Club. Anderson’s husband, Mark, is her primary coach at the swim club. Mark is also the head coach of the Stony Brook University women’s swimming team.
After the state meet, the swimming scheduled will stay busy for Herr with several more meets in December through the club team. Anderson said Herr has qualified for the Junior Winter Nationals, although it’s unclear yet if she’ll compete at the meet in December.
“It’s awesome for her,” Anderson said.