Waukee’s Record Breaking Swimmer Chasing Another State Title

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WAUKEE, Iowa -- You don't reach girls state swimming without spending many hours in the pool.

Most of our state's elite started swimming as they started walking.  But, a late bloomer at Waukee is now passing everybody.

Take one look at the Waukee’s wall of records and one name stands out: Maddie Gehrke.

Gehrke is not only the best swimmer to ever come through Waukee High School, but one of the best in Iowa.

State champ two years ago as a sophomore, but runner-up last year, Maddie wants to get back on top of the podium as a senior.

"I’ve had seasons where I didn't finish as well as I wanted to and that has definitely motivated me to work harder in the pool,” Gehrke told Channel 13.

The obvious assumption is Gehrke has been swimming since she was a toddler. That’s not the case. She didn’t start swimming till she was 12, and before that she was terrified of the water.

"I was actually afraid of the drains, not the pools, the drains. I definitely got over that. You can't be afraid of pools and be a swimmer it just doesn't work,” Gehrke joked.

"I was really bad when I first started. I was so slow I can’t even describe how slow I was. There were 32 girls on the team, I was the 32nd fastest."

From being terrified of pool drains, to one of the fastest swimmers the state has ever seen.

Gehrke has a chance to win two individual titles Saturday, backstroke and 50m freestyle.

Next year she will swim for the University of Missouri.

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