Making a splash: DHS senior shares highlights of six-year swimming career
“You win some and you lose some,” Charley Rathgeber said. “You aren't always going to have your best days.”
DICKINSON — At the age of five, Charley Rathgeber sat at the edge of the pool and longed for the day she’d be able to swim with her big sister. She admired the ripples in the water and the way the sun made the surface sparkle and dance.
Now, as a soon-to-be high school graduate, Rathgeber is wrapping up her well-accomplished career as a member of the Dickinson High School Swim and Dive team. She has been swimming for 13 years and is currently ranked 3rd in the State in the 100 butterfly, 4th in the 50 freestyle and 5th in the 200 freestyle. She has placed in the top 10 every year since her 8th grade season.
Rathgeber holds two individual DHS Swim and Dive team records in the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke and was an important member of each of the 3 relays that hold the current records in the 200 medley, 200 freestyle and 400 freestyle.
This year at State, she and her teammates Taylor Miller, Aryana Twist, and Mara Ellerkamp placed 2nd in the200 yard freestyle relay with a time of 1:41.35.
“My relay team has been great for me,” Rathgeber said. “It’s always the same four girls. I love being on a relay with them and it’s a great way to end the meets.”
Rathgeber also made the top 8 (A Finals) in the 100 and 200 freestyle this season at State.
“It has been a lot of fun watching and coaching Charley for all 6 of her years on the DHS Swim and Dive team, plus more in her elementary years on our Dickinson Dolphins Club Team,” DHS Swim and Dive Head Hoach Jenna Wolf said. “She’s been a huge part of our program over the years through all of the successes we’ve had as a team and she will be greatly missed with some big shoes to fill.”
As a consistent member of the team, Rathgeber has had an opportunity to watcher herself and her teammates advance in the sport. This year she says the teams spirt and bond has strengthened a lot.
“Everyone is so connected and there isn’t a separation between the older and younger girls,” Rathgeber said.
One of her favorite memories is singing during the bus rides to different meets. The team song has become Umbrella by Rihanna. She also treasures the moments she got to spend practicing swimming with her older sister Haley who was also on the team until she graduated. The girls both swam for Dickinson from Rathgeber’s seventh grade year to her sophomore year.
The most difficult part about competitive swimming has been overcoming the mental battle in the water.
“If you have the mindset that you aren’t going to do well, you won’t,” Rathgeber said. “You have to keep that positive energy with your teammates and be there for one another to cheer each other on. Just having that good attitude goes a long way.”
Rathgeber’s favorite strokes are the 100 fly and the 100 freestyle. She says the fly used to be challenging and give her bad anxiety at swim meets but it has grown to be an event that she excels in and has fun with.
Being a team leader for DHS has helped her learn a lot about herself.
“You win some and you lose some,” Rathgeber said. “You are not always going to have your best days.”
Even when Rathgeber isn’t having a stellar stroke time, she is relentless in her effort to be the best.
“She is an athlete that you can put in any event and she will excel,” Wolf said. “She has swum a variety of different events at the State Swim and Dive meets including the 50, 100, 200 freestyle,100 butterfly and 100 backstroke, and she has qualified for every individual event since her freshman year.”
After graduation, Rathgeber looks forward to attending college to major in political science, with a minor in women and gender studies. She plans to hang up the swim cap to focus on her studies.