This is one in a series of articles from WeLoveAnnArbor highlighting members of the Pioneer girls’ swimming and diving 2020 state championship team.
The results jump off the board, the times were impressive and everything added up to an amazing season for Lindsay Orringer and the Pioneer girls’ swimming and diving team. The junior touched top four in two individual events two weeks ago to help lead the purple and white to a rather easy state championship at the MHSAA Division 1 finals at Hudsonville.
While the scoreboard was lopsided at the end, there was nothing easy about the ride but what made it less bouncy and took some of the curves out of the trip was going through it with a close group of teammates. This was as special a group of athletes out of the water as it proved to be in the water – and that’s a key to their success.
“Most of us have been swimming together since we were 8 to 10 years old and we have been with each other through everything, and have all formed a super close bond,” says Orringer. “Every single day we support each other and drive each other to be at our best. We are always laughing and making memories, even during impossibly hard sets.”
Orringer credits head coach Stephanie Kerska for setting the tone and tempo for a winning program.
“We are all incredibly grateful for Coach Stef,” she says. “She is so knowledgeable about the sport and pushes us way beyond what we believe we are capable of everyday. She teaches us that every little thing you do in practice matters and that everything should have a purpose. Stef is someone we all look up to, and we are certainly extremely thankful for her. We all wanted to come together and win this for her.”
And win they did.
Pioneer racked up 368 points, while last year’s champion Farmington Hills Mercy placed second at 184. Northville (164) was third, Brighton (159) finished fourth and Grand Haven fifth (150).
The previous year, the Pioneers came up a point short to Mercy at the state finals and they used that as a driving force to work hard and be better.
“It motivated me more than anything,” Orringer said of last year’s state finals. “I was so proud of the way the team handled ourselves at the end of that meet. Regardless of the score, we held our heads high and congratulated those around us.
“However, we all had a goal in mind for the next year, and we pushed ourselves as hard as we possibly could day in and day out to make sure we would accomplish it.”
Just a junior, Orringer was at her very best all season and took it to another level at the championship meet. She was third in the 100 fly with a time of 56.22 and touched fourth in the 500 free with a time of 5:04.74.
Last season as a sophomore, Orringer was ninth in the 100 fly and fourth in the 500 free.
Orringer, who keeps improving every year and remains in stride for big things down the road, started her swimming career when she was just 4 years old with the Huron Valley Swim Club. She started swimming competitively and year-round when she was around 6 and has been with the Saline Swim Team for the past 10 years.
“I love the adrenaline rush you get from racing,” she says. There is nothing else in the world that gives me the feeling of accomplishment the way swimming does after a good race or hard set.”
There were some challenges this year – and the Pioneers handled them the best they could and together as a team.
“It was certainly hard to stay in shape with all of the pauses on our season,” Orringer says. “Not only finding pool time while still staying safe, but also keeping a positive mindset. It was challenging to push ourselves when we were training all alone, but I think we were all able to power through it for each other, and of course, for Stef.”
And the payoff came with a dominating performance in the biggest meet of the year.
“We were all very motivated and determined going into the meet,” Orringer says of the state finals. “None of us knew exactly how we or others would be able to perform in the water due to the pause from COVID. Stef always tells us to ‘control your control-ables,’ so that is exactly what we did. We made sure we were as prepared as possible, and we swam our hearts out.
“It was an incredible feeling to see everyone’s hard work pay off when we saw the final score. We were all so proud of each other.”
Lindsay, 16, is the daughter of Lisa Orringer, and currently has a 4.0 GPA. She also is part of the Peer Connections program at Pioneer, which allows students to work with and form friendships with special-ed students at the school.
Her goals for next year are simple – well, they sound simple.
“I plan to continue working hard in the pool and hope for some best times and maybe even higher places next year,” she says. “As for the team, I hope we have as much fun next season as we did this season.”
Her longer-term plans include swimming in college.
“I want to swim for a Division 1 school in college,” she says. “I want to attend a school that will push me academically and allow me to succeed in the future. I also want the school to have a team like this one, with an incredibly close bond, that makes your teammates feel like your family. I have started the recruiting process, and I am very excited to see where it will take me.”