1 AWARDS: CAYLOR STRIVING TO MAKE MARK IN FINAL YEAR AT KICKAPOO
SPRINGFIELD, Mo.(OzarksSportsZone.com) -- Krystal Caylor made the switch from gymnastics to swimming at age 11 and never looked back.
The rising senior at Kickapoo is not only a phenom in the water, but also an ideal example of what an athlete should be.
She thanks the sport of swimming for that.
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“It’s taught me discipline, sportsmanship and how to be an all-around good athlete,” Caylor said.
Like all athletes, she wants to be successful.
But she’s not just after the kind of success that entails winning, exceling and earning state medals.
She has a burning desire to make a difference at her school.
“More than anything, I want to leave a mark as someone that the freshmen are going to want to be like,” said Caylor. “I want to be friends with everyone on the team. I don’t want them to feel intimidated by me. I know how it can be when there’s someone there that’s been swimming for eight years. I want them to know I’m not just there to go to state and be a big dog. I want to know them individually and be a good teammate to everyone on the team.”
Currently, more than half the Kickapoo team is freshmen, according to Caylor.
“There were so many new freshmen on the team this year,” she said. “It’s so good to see freshmen talent.”
Over the years, a number of Kickapoo teams and individual athletes have made their way to the state level more and more often, including the boys’ and girls’ swim teams.
“Our girls basketball team this year was phenomenal,” said Caylor. “Basketball gets a lot of recognition at Kickapoo. Everyone’s really excited about basketball and football, but not a lot of people recognize swimming. To really understand swimming, you have to do well at state. You have to achieve higher than what’s expected to live up to Kickapoo’s expectations.”
With such a rich athletics program, Caylor wants her name on Kickapoo’s record board as many times as she can get it there.
“It’s just a small goal, not a huge deal,” she explained. “It’s to give some recognition to swimming at Kickapoo, really. I think people are really unaware of how good the swim team really can be at Kickapoo.”
Caylor qualified for the state meet in three events and was all-state in two of them.
To finish up her 200 IM race, she touched the wall, took a breath, removed her goggles and saw the beautiful time of 2:07.22 on the scoreboard to take fourth place.
Caylor put on a huge grin and turned to the fans in the stand wearing yellow.
But they weren’t the only Springfieldians clapping for Caylor.
The nearby Glendale crew was just as excited.
“Before my race they were like, ‘Go Krystal! We’re here for you too!’ It was really sweet of them. It wasn’t just my mom up there cheering for me. It was definitely the highlight of state for me just seeing them up there,” said Caylor.
She also took sixth in the 100 Breaststroke, clocked at 1:07.18.
The Breaststroke event she replaced with the 500 Freestyle, which she swam her freshman and sophomore seasons.
Now swimming with Springfield Aquatics at Drury University, Coach Brian Reynolds suggested Caylor swim the Breaststroke event at the state level.
“He’s the master of breaststroke,” Caylor said. “When I switched to SPA, he really took me under his wing and taught me how to properly swim it. We saw a lot of improvement and I wanted to compete in it.”
The 200 IM, though, was by far Caylor’s favorite race of the day.
“My goal was to be top five,” she explained. “I saw my time and I was just so excited. A lot of people wouldn’t be happy with that because they want to be first, and I want to be first. But that’s the goal for this coming year. I was really excited to be top five, honestly.”
Both of her individual races were done in school record-breaking fashion.
NO SUCH THING AS OFFSEASON
State medals aren’t easy to earn, and Caylor knows that.
To be all-state and set new Kickapoo records, you have to be dedicated.
Caylor said, “I was really excited about my improvement in times, but I knew that if I wanted to place even higher next season, I needed to get back in the pool and work super hard. I was back at SPA just that Monday after state. I don’t believe in taking breaks; maybe a day here or there, but I don’t like to.”
Caylor has practices with SPA nine times a week during the summer.
“I want to swim in college, so I have to make sure that I’m being the best me that I can be,” Caylor explained. “Colleges ask, ‘How hard does this person practice? Do I want them to be on my team?’ I know if I work my hardest and am consistent this next year, I’m going to be good.”
This summer, Caylor plans to work on her technique.
“I have a lot of little things I need to fix, especially on backstroke,” she said.
Reynolds is helping her with that.
So far, it’s been a productive summer in Caylor’s eyes.
“I just had a swim meet this past weekend,” she said. “Usually mid-season swim meets aren’t that great and you don’t feel good in the water; you feel slow and sometimes add time in events. But I dropped time in events this past week. When sectionals come in late July, I should have even better time improvements. So, I’m ahead of the game in a sense that I’m already in such a shape that I don’t know how sectionals will go.”
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