Ann Arbor’s leading girls’ swim company is looking for continued success in the pool

ANN ARBOR — Individual medley swimmers don’t have the luxury of getting hit poorly. In instant messaging, you should be able to do everything.

That’s what Stella Chapman does for the Ann Arbor Pioneer girls swimming and diving team.

Chapman was a strong backstroke swimmer when she entered high school, but she has taken her skills to become a captain on one of the best teams in the state.

As a freshman, she won a state title in the 100 backstroke — her favorite event — and then captured a Division I state championship in the 200 backstroke.

Last year, she achieved convincing victories in the finals of the 200m individual and 100m backstroke. She has also been part of the state champion 200 IM relay and 400 free relay teams and is the anchor for a team looking to capture its fourth straight state title in D1 and 20th overall.

“She’s starting this year with the fewest weaknesses of any swimmer I’ve ever coached,” Pioneer coach Stephanie Kirska said. “She’s always been a good backstroke and butterfly player. She comes with that ability to stay underwater well, and over the years she’s become a great backstroke player. She’s really working on her freestyle and her ability to finish races now. It’s become the complete package.”

For Chapman, who is committed to the University of Wisconsin, there’s no big secret to her success: it’s putting in the effort, week after week.

“I like to keep myself on my toes when it comes to swimming,” Chapman said. “I do a lot of variety, but I try to be consistent with my training and work ethic. If I keep myself well-maintained, it makes training that much more fun.”

Chapman is one of a handful of seniors on the youth-dominated Pioneer swimming and diving team, which is trying to continue its winning streak at the highest level.

Returning are distance freestyler Yan-Yi Adler, a senior, and Reece Heidenreich (second in the 100 backstroke), who both scored points at state.

Junior runner Ursula Ott, as well as four other swimmers who registered at state: juniors Bridget Kamara, Ursula Ott and Meg Pinkerton, and sophomore Kate Van Rijn. Ott and Van Ryn were on the championship 200m team with Chapman, and Van Ryn was also on the 400 relay team.

The pioneers are younger than they have been in recent years. They’ll be counting on big things from a large and talented group of freshmen: Jayla Kozak, Yan-Ling Adler, Harper Fiennes, Soren Lee, and Sisi Cook.

“These five will have a huge impact on the program over the next five years,” Kirska said. “Our freshman class is feisty, hungry and very young. This is a new team with a whole new identity, but they are really determined to be great stewards of these programs.”

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