KISD Swimmers Savor State Championship Appearance

The main entrance doors into the Lee & Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center on the University of Texas Campus had signs taped to them reading “Sold Out.”


Once inside, those signs, in a way, came to life. Gazing up from the pool deck to the ceiling, all that was visible was a sea of fans waiting for the chance to cheer on their favorite people in the pool below.


Checking her timeGetting some coachingEllison’s Alyssa Ifill and Chaparral’s Christine Kim were two swimmers some of the thousands were there to watch at the 2024 UIL State Swimming Championships on Friday morning.


“I didn’t even notice there were that many people here until I looked up and saw all the seats were taken. I was like ‘This is crazy,'” Ifill said. “It doesn’t bother me too much, because I am so concentrated on the pool.”


The pool is where Ifill, a senior, and Kim, a sophomore, flourish. In fact, Friday’s preliminaries marked the second straight state appearance for the duo.


Ifill earned her spot in the 50-yard freestyle field with a second-place showing at the Class 5A Region VI meet earlier this month, and doubled-up her duties by receiving a call-up in the 100 free by having one of the eight fastest regional times among the non-automatic qualifiers.


Kim returned to state by securing a call-up in the 50 free, and it just so happened that the KISD standouts were in the same heat and in Lanes 2 and 3 for Friday’s 50 free prelim.


On your marks“It’s a lot of pressure, and you see your competition and it's like, ‘Wow, they are so fast,’” Kim said of sharing the water with the state’s best. “But, when you get here, it’s like, I belong here. I’m supposed to be here. I’m one of them.”


And not by accident.


“A lot of time and a lot of commitment goes into the sport. Having that discipline and effort, that’s why these kids are here today,” Chaparral head coach Tawnya Roupe said. “Christine puts in hours and hours of time and effort. When we are in practice, she is willing to help out the other kids and show them how it works. We are super proud of her.”


The aim was to finish with a top-8 time out of 24 swimmers to advance into Saturday’s A Final.


Ifill, with a time of 24.50 seconds, and Kim, touching the wall in 24.52, nearly made the cut in the 50 free, finishing 10th and 11th, respectively, to earn spots in the B Final on Saturday.


About 25 minutes later, Ifill dived back into the pool for the 100 (four lengths of the pool). Nobody needed to see the time afterward. Her smile said plenty.


Clocking 53.20 seconds, Ifill made Saturday’s A Final on the dot –– the eighth-best time out of 24.


"I’m very excited –– very happy –– because that was my goal for today, was to make A finals my senior year,” Ifill said. “Last year, I was so nervous and so, like, tense. This year, I was still nervous, but I knew the pool and I had done it before so it wasn’t as bad.”Diving into the pool


It was quite good, actually.


“Alyssa is just all-around amazing. She’s just a happy, great kid, and I’ve been watching her work her tail off for years,” Ellison head coach Lara Sursa said. “Alyssa is such a role model for the kids on our team and other teams. She’s kind, she helps them out, she’s great with our freshmen and underclassmen. That’s something you don’t always find with someone who has her talent. For me that’s a huge thing.”


Kim said her goal for the B Final on Saturday is to swim a 23-second 50, a race she’ll use to get her ready for another journey to state next season.


“They are setting the bar for KISD, and that is important because we are trying to change the mindset when it comes to the sport of swimming –– just trying to get people to understand that it’s not a recreational sport. It’s an actual competition,” Roupe said. “A lot of time and a lot of commitment goes into the sport. Having that discipline and effort, that’s why these kids are here this weekend.”


The A and B finals began at 9:30 a.m. Saturday. Ifill clocked a 24.11 in the 50 for the fastest time in the B final for an overall finish of ninth place. Kim finished the race in 24.33 to finish third in the B final and 11th overall.


Kim's 24.33 is a personal best and school record.


In the 100 A final, Ifill shaved more than a second off of her preliminary time with a personal-best and school-record 52.13 and placed sixth overall, her highest finish in a state meet.