STATE SWIMMING: ‘Extreme work ethic’: Thompson splashes into state pool fourth time in row

Published 6:14 pm Thursday, February 15, 2018

NEDERLAND — On a cloudy Wednesday in February, kids occupy a small part of the Central Middle School pool while Karley Thompson is going through her laps, practicing every technique for her final high school meet.

Thompson can be found on one end of the pool listening to Nederland coach Robin Burk, while the younger ones take coaching from other adults on the opposite. Sometimes, they end up on the same side of the pool. Thompson, locked into her competitive mindset, doesn’t appear to be distracted.

“She has an extreme work ethic,” Burk said. “As with any athlete, they have a tendency to clear that mental hurdle they have to get over. She has a way of keeping herself calm where that doesn’t get to her too much.”

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If Thompson is not calm, she tends to psych herself out and get nervous, she said.

“That’s not good. I’m just going to be as calm as I can and let my training do the talking,” she added.

Thompson will take the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swim Center pool in Austin for the fourth year in a row starting Friday as she pursues her first state title in the 50-yard freestyle and 100-yard backstroke. The annual voyage to the Texas capital, in itself, says a lot about Thompson’s “extreme” training.

“Being here in a smaller swimming community, she swims by herself,” Burk said. “To have the level of commitment to show up every day and work hard by yourself is what makes her extreme because a lot of kids would say, ‘This is boring. I’m by myself.’

“She has teammates, but you know, not at the same level she’s at.”
Thompson, the two-time reigning District 23-5A high point award winner, won the 100 back in districts all four years, the 200-yard individual medley her first two years and the 50 free the last two years. She won regional titles in the 100 back as a freshman and sophomore and the 200 IM as a sophomore, came in second in the 200 IM as a freshman and 100 back as a junior, and came in the top five in the 50 free the past two years and the 100 back as a senior.

At the 5A Region VI meet Magnolia earlier this month, Thompson came in fifth in 50 free and fourth in the 100 back. Her highest finish in a state event is fifth in the 100 back last year.

A strong performance could draw more interest from collegiate programs for Thompson, who is recruited by North Texas and UT Permian Basin. Texas may have taken a close look at the eight-time state qualifier as well.

Of her four years making it to Austin, Thompson said: “It’s really exciting and it’s not something everybody does, especially in this area.”

I.C. Murrell: 721-2435. Twitter: @ICMurrellPANews

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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