CLINTON — Nikki Erling has spent the past two years trying to get become the swimmer she was a sophomore. It’s not an easy way for the lone senior on the Clinton girls swimming team to close out her career.
But, she’s getting there.
Erling celebrated Senior Night by winning a pair of races Monday night, while teammate Sadie Nickles also won two and Becca Hess claimed one victory in the River Queens’ 110-58 loss to Davenport Central at the Clinton Aquatics Center.
“It’s been rough,” Erling said of her two-year struggle to completely recover from the effects of a concussion, suffered when she ran into a weight-lifting bar as a sophomore. “The concussion my sophomore year was disappointing. My team helped me get through it.”
Coach Albert Hayton said the injury took a toll on Erling’s performances since then.
“She’s kind of getting to what she was before the concussion,” he said. “It’s been almost two years. She lost a lot of time.”
But, he certainly is happy she stuck it out.
“Since she was a little kid I’ve been involved in her swimming, probably close to 10 years,” Hayton said. “It’s kind of like having one of your own kids go through. She’s been a great leader and will be missed.”
Perhaps because the River Queens will host the regional meet this fall, Erling said the Senior Night ceremony didn’t get her too emotional.
“It hasn’t quite hit me yet,” she said. “It will probably hit me there (the Nov. 2 regional) more than now.”
Erling picked up victories in the 200-yard individual medley and the 100 butterfly.
“I was really happy with the IM,” she said of the win in 2 minutes, 36.50 seconds, more-than-7-second margin over runner-up Erika Moeller of Central. “It was not too bad.