Sometimes, parents just know. In this case, it was in the water.
It was just a few years ago that Johanna and Jess Cramer dropped their daughter – figuratively – into the water at Georgetown Country Club in Ann Arbor. Little Lily wasn’t thrilled about it – at least, at first.
“My parents signed me up for the swim team so that I could learn how to swim and I’ve been doing it ever since,” says Lily Cramer. “If I’m being honest, I did not like swimming at all when I first started. I didn’t really like being in the water.”
In other words, she didn’t exactly take to it like a fish to water. Or even a swimmer to water.
Her parents, apparently not giving up, signed her up at Club Wolverine, where they take their swimming very seriously. And, just like that, Lily soon discovered not only a perfect stroke but a “love for the sport.”
“I started taking swimming seriously a couple years after I joined Club Wolverine,” she says. “My parents signed me up when I was around 8, and it was kind of just a pastime until I was 10 or so. But I learned to love the sport.”
She not only loves it, but excels at it. And she hit the Pioneer High School pool running – or should that be swimming. Two years ago as a freshman, Cramer finished eighth at the Division 1 State Finals in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:04.04. She also swam the 200 IM and finished sixth in the state with a time of 2:05.91.
This past season as a sophomore, Cramer again swam the 100 breaststroke and 200 IM for the Pioneers. She tied for sixth in the breaststroke and went a 1:03.66 in the prelims. In the 200 IM, she went 2:04.17 and placed third overall – as a sophomore.
Cramer also brought home two gold medals from this past season’s State Meet. She swam lead-off on Pioneer’s winning 200-free relay team (along with Autumn Bullinger, Amelia Weyhing and Lucy Mehraban) that took first place in 1:34.75. And here’s something to note – only Mehraban is not a sophomore (she’s a freshman). Note No. 2 for reference – the D-1 meet record is 1:33.34.
Speaking of gold, Cramer anchored Pioneer’s winning 400 free relay which took first in 3:25.31. That team included Mehraban and sophomores Vivian VanRenterghem and Holly Pringle. The D-1 meet record time in the 400 free relay is 3:23.15 – for now anyway.
“I have been really good at Pioneer,” she admits. “I love the program and it’s definitely helping me with improving.”
While the Pioneers were loaded with great, young talent last year they came up a half point short of their goal to win it all. Farmington Hills Mercy scored 298 points to Pioneer’s 297.5 points at the D-1 finals on Nov. 23 at the Holland Aquatic Center.
Cramer said the State Finals were “very intense.”
Going into the meet we really didn’t know where we were going to end up placing,” she said. “I think everyone was hopeful, but we thought winning was a long shot. The night before finals Stef and Pat told us that we were predicted to get second, but there was a shot of winning. That definitely put a lot of pressure on everybody, but in a good way. We all fought as hard as we could the second day. Every single person on our state team had amazing races. I remember thinking we had won the meet after finishing first in the 400 free relay, and then seeing the results and being crushed a little bit on the inside.
Losing by a point has to hurt. Losing by a half point really has to hurt. But, like Cramer says, swimming your best helps ease the pain and the Pioneers certainly brought their best to the State Finals.
“It hurt at first but I think everyone recovered pretty quickly,” she said. “It was reassuring knowing that we were a team primarily of underclassmen, with the exception of one junior. We handled the loss really well, and every single girl on the team knows we put in the work.
“Looking back on it I’m not really upset with the outcome, and I think it’s even more motivation for next year.”
Cramer said this past season at Pioneer was “beyond amazing.” They had excellent team chemistry and all worked extremely hard.
“We got new freshman on the team who are all great and the training went really well,” Cramer says. “Freshman and sophomore year have set my expectations really high for next year. This season for me personally was more than anything I could’ve hoped for. I dropped time in almost all of my races and I had a lot of fun doing so.”
Cramer’s goals for next year include both of those things – dropping time and having fun. Winning an individual gold medal at the state meet would also be a lot of fun and certainly appears within reach.
“My individual goals for next season are really just time drops,” she says. “State champion in an individual event isn’t out of reach but right now that isn’t really important to me.
“As for the team, I think we are all looking to win states. We were so close this past year and I know everyone is very determined to make it happen.”
Cramer says what makes Pioneer so good at swimming is their team bond.
“We all have the same wants for the team, so we strive to do our best in and out of the pool,” she says. “A large portion of the team also has a background in swimming, which really helps us out. The training is definitely a large aspect as well.”
When she’s not swimming for Pioneer, Cramer still swims for Club Wolverine.
“Club Wolverine is a great team, and we have an amazing team culture and a really good training environment,” she says. “I have done really well at CW. I have been provided with a lot there, which has really helped me achieve my goals.”
Cramer, who is swimming along well in the classroom with a 3.97 GPA, has a few years to decide where she wants to go to college. She definitely wants to swim – thanks to a little nudge from her parents, this swimming thing is working out quite well indeed.