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HS swimming: Comets’ Sauter excels at butterfly event

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CARTHAGE — Claire Sauter’s successful swimming season hasn’t been without trials and errors.

The Carthage senior is battling to drop time in the 100-yard butterfly before her high school career concludes.

Sauter embraced the butterfly event her freshman season and immediately made an impact for the Comets.

“I like the challenge of the butterfly because you have to have your kick and your arms in a good rhythm in order to get the movement through the water that’s going to make you excel in the event,” Sauter said. “When it clicks for you, you feel like you’re flying though the water.”

Sauter also swims the 200 freestyle and contributes to all three of the Comets’ relays. She leads the Frontier League’s North Division this season with the fastest times in both the 100 butterfly and 200 freestyle.

Sauter has not set a personal record in the 100 butterfly since her sophomore season when she clocked a time of 1 minute, 4.52 seconds during the Section 3 finals. The pressure to improve has left her disappointed, despite her success. She has generated a 6-1 record in the 100 butterfly, losing only to Rachel Rodriquez of Indian River.

“I’m a little frustrated with where I am right now,” Sauter admitted. “We have a couple meets left, so I’m feeling the pressure to get back down to a certain time where I seem to plateau at the end of every season.”

Sauter has been making small changes in her butterfly stroke, which have resulted in inconsistent results this season.

“I’m trying to modify my technique to produce a better stroke and more distance per stroke,” Sauter said. “Part of my frustration this year is trying to develop a technique that is going to help me break the barrier.”

Sauter’s best time this season is 1:07.81, so she still needs to drop more than three seconds.

“Trying different things is not going to produce success overnight,” Carthage coach Nancy Mushtare said. “The big thing is that we try to find what works for her, and by doing different things something is going to click. We keep looking at something to help: her timing, her kick, her head position, any minute little thing.”

Sauter suffered a major setback after she tore the ACL in her right knee during the second game of lacrosse season her freshman year. She had surgery, followed by physical therapy throughout that summer. She was back in the pool in time for swimming while her recovery continued.

“Coming back into the season I knew I was going to be slower, not up-to-par and needing a lot of conditioning because I hadn’t been playing sports all summer like usual,” Sauter said.

“That took a toll on her,” Mushtare said. “She worked hard through it but any injury is going to set you back, unfortunately.”

Sauter began swimming at 2 years old and received inspiration from her sister, Emily, a 2010 Carthage graduate who excelled as a freestyle sprinter.

“My sister has definitely influenced my swimming career,” Sauter said. “She’s been a role model in sports, academics and in character overall.”

Emily Sauter, a senior at Nazareth College, still holds six Carthage records, some of them as part of relays.

“She was such a great swimmer in high school, and she has numerous records up on the board that I get to look at every day,” Claire Sauter said.

Carthage (4-3 overall and league) is also led by seniors Gabbee Park, Kendra Bates and Carly Sullivan. Park provides points in the 200 individual medley and 100 backstroke, while Bates is solid in the 100 breaststroke. Sullivan is one of the league’s top divers.

Carthage has a meet scheduled for 4:30 p.m. today at South Jefferson in Adams.

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