Thompson swims to Austin — again

Published 11:08 pm Wednesday, February 17, 2016

By Russ DeVillier
Special to The Leader

NEDERLAND — Karley Thompson, like many kids, was introduced to swimming safety and fun at the YMCA. The 7-year-old then took to a small backyard pool at her Nederland home under the watchful eyes of her parents, Donna Thompson and the late Tom Thompson.
She flourished in the water and was soon enrolled in the Spindletop Swim Club. Swimming became even more fun as Karley’s competitive spirit blossomed at weekend meets.
It was still fun but the stakes became higher last year when Thompson, then a Nederland High School ninth-grader, qualified for the Class 5A championships in Austin. She finished 13th in the girls’ 100-yard backstroke. Thompson and her coach, Kathryn Miller, both believe she’ll top that this time around.
“I know my time at regional was about two seconds better than a year ago,” said Thompson as she took a break from a morning workout. “I’m having fun and will give it my best.”
Miller, in her first year as the Bulldogs swim coach, echoes Thompson’s quiet confidence. “She is an extremely hard worker, is excited about the opportunity and has the right mindset to handle the pressure,” said Miller.
The Texas girls’ championships will be Friday and Saturday in Austin.
Thompson, 16, says her 5-foot-8 frame is an asset in the water.
“I pretty much did most of my growing by the fifth grade,” she said. “Now it’s up to me. I practice four hours a day, six days a week, and love it. I have two more years in high school after this, and plan on college, hopefully with a scholarship.”
SMU and Texas A&M are among two strong swim programs she hopes to become part of.
After her morning workout and school day in Nederland, Thompson gets in an evening session with the Beaumont chapter of the USA Swim Club.
“The USA program pits her against other top-notch swimmers in the state,” said Miller. “It is the kind of competition she needs to constantly strive to move up.”
In addition to the backstroke, Thompson will also compete in the 200-yard medley, a demanding test of butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle. She captured gold medals in both the backstroke and medley events at the Region VI meet, and was ranked third in power points as 200 girls vied for a spot at state,
Cheering her on in Austin will be her mom, coach and close friend and teammate Klara Morsfeld, an exchange student from Germany.
The area’s only other state qualifier is Mason Youngblood, a senior at Silsbee.

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