Columbian’s Howard all smiles after competing at state

CANTON – It was so much fun she wants to do it again next year.

Columbian’s Natalie Howard placed 21st in the 100 butterfly Thursday night at the Division II State Swimming and Diving Tournament at the C.T. Branin Natatorium in Canton.

“I was probably the most fun I’ve ever had in a race in my whole career,” Howard said.

She finished her prelim race in 1:00.59. Kiley Eble of Gates Mills Gilmour Academy won the prelims with a time of 55.16.

Howard came into the race ranked 20th with a time of 59.94.

“I didn’t season PR (personal record) but I did get my overall goals of the season this year,” Howard said. “As for my race, my start wasn’t that great but my start isn’t always great. But I felt my turns were really low to the water and fast and I felt my turnover was good as well. I would have liked to have gotten a PR but honestly I’m really happy with what I did.

Coach Donna Hudacek said she was thrilled with her swimmer’s performance.

“The start was good. The underwater was good. She probably could have been a little quicker. The turns were good,” Hudacek said. “I was happy that she was happy with it. When a kid gets out and they’re happy with how they’ve done, and swimming for the love of swimming, that’s great.”

Howard said the mere taste of this event will drive her all the more.

“Next year, I want to be back here,” Howard said. “This was such a great experience. I just want to do it again.”

The Division II finals resume today at 5 p.m.