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Drawn to the water: Senior swimmer Erika Williams in the spotlight

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DHS senior Ericka Williams has been an instrumental component to the swim team's success and first place finishes this season.
Contributed / Ericka Williams
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DICKINSON — With a big splash, Ericka Williams plunged into the deep end of the pool. For as long as she can remember she’s been comfortable around the clear blue water. Williams is a senior Dickinson High School competitive swimmer, a 2022 All-Conference selection, a four-year State qualifier and a six-year letter winner.

Her pool passion took off in the third grade when her mother enrolled her in swimming classes. Williams had formerly tried other competitive sports but hadn’t found one that brought her joy and made her shine until she fell in love with learning new strokes and challenging herself in the water.

As a beginner, Williams had to be persistent and self-motivated because the fundamentals of swimming were initially difficult for her. After years of practice she has become a natural.

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A childhood photo of Ericka Williams at the pool locker room.
Contributed / Ericka Williams

Williams’s favorite events are the 200 IM and the 100 breaststroke. Her best time in the breaststroke is a 1:14.12. Placing well at a meet makes her push herself harder to stay on top. She says swimming excites her because it is a versatile sport with so many different strokes to try and improve at. Endurance and a strong lung capacity are two important skills for her because she has to swim a lot of yards and hold her breath under water frequently.

“It relieves a lot of stress for me, makes me tired, and makes me feel better,” Williams said. “If I’m not swimming, I’m very bored. I need something to keep me active and make me tired so I can sleep well and do well in my schooling. Its always been swimming for me.”

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Williams adheres to a strict and dedicated training regimen, with morning and afternoon practices Tuesday through Thursday. She also participates in a weights program at school for an hour-and-a-half every other day.

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Ericka Williams (far left) with fellow teammates Aryanna Twist and McKenna Mettler.
Contributed / Ericka Williams

At tournaments, her family records her races so she can study the film to inventory her strengths and weaknesses.

“Sometimes you don’t know you are doing something wrong until you see yourself doing it,” Williams said. “Maybe my turn wasn’t good... I can see where my arm was coming too far out of the water, or that I was breathing a lot during my strokes. When matches don’t go well, that doesn’t mean I’m not going to do well at my next race. I try to do even better the next time.”

Williams has learned what strokes work best for her body and how to optimize speed. Sometimes she hits a wall on how to improve, so she returns to her personal film and works with her coaches on evaluating her performance. She said one of her biggest personal accomplishments this year has been improving her breaststroke and cutting significant time off her run since last year.

“I’m proud of how far I’ve come,” Williams said. “I have a lot of my teammates who inspire me to do better because they are really good. I try to top them.”

“Ericka Williams has been a great asset to help diversify our team as she is more of a stroke swimmer versus free, where we have been very strong at,” Jenna Wolf, DHS head swim and dive coach said. “This season she has worked hard on fine tuning her technique, especially in her breaststroke which is her strength, to help her achieve career PR’s during our regular season meets.”

Erika Williams
After high school graduation, Williams plans to attend college to pursue a degree in physical therapy.
Taylar Dawn Photography

Williams has also been a crucial member in the breaststroke leg on the 200 medley relay team for 3 years. Each year, she has brought the split time down. This year, she reached her fastest career split during a regular season meet. Williams came close to qualifying for every individual event this season, just missing the 50 freestyle and 100 butterfly, which were both events she only swam once during the regular season.

In the West she has typically been a top 16 athlete, but this season, she pushed herself to be in the top 8. At WDA, she was the no. 5 seed in the 100 breaststroke and 6th in the 200 IM.

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Following graduation, Williams plans to pursue a degree in physical therapy and continue swimming as a much-loved hobby.

READ MORE BY AMBER I. NEATE
DICKINSON — It was a bleak home game season opener for the Dickinson Midgets girl’s hockey team Dec. 2. Their heads hung low following a brutal 9-2 loss against West Fargo United. The opening day loss comes as the season starts and memories of last year's difficult 4-16 season are still fresh.

Amber Neate grew up in rural Skull Valley, Arizona. Her passion of covering sports of all types, including personal favorites wrestling, hockey, rodeo and football, began at an early age.

She obtained her Associate of Arts Degree from Yavapai Community College before attending Northern Arizona University for a three-year journalism program. While at NAU, Neate worked as an Assistant Sports Editor for the Lumberjack Newspaper as well as a hockey commentator for KJACK Radio.

Gaining her experience working for a small community paper, The Wickenburg Sun, as a general news and features reporter, her love for sports and a small-town community brings her to Dickinson to cover southwest North Dakota sports.

LANGUAGES: English
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