Nixa swimming

Payge Plank

Nixa coach Pete Hill is optimistic regarding what kind of immediate impact freshman Payge Plank can make.

“It will be interesting to see how she does,” Hill said. ‘I’ve known her for years. She’s been a very strong age-group swimmer growing up. At a very young age, she was close to state-cuts. We’ll see how it goes for her. I think she’s got a shot at state-consideration times and automatic times.”

Plank’s background includes a third-place finish a year ago at State in the 50 freestyle while competing for the Springfield Aquatics. But she doesn’t necessarily consider that her best event.

Once settled in, Plank can compete in anything from the 50 or 100 freestyle, 100 breast stroke, 100 backstroke and any of the relays.

“Payge is diverse across the board,” Hill said. “She’s a good back-stroker and a good breast-stroker. She can swim all four strokes well.”

Plank already has swam competitively for five years..

“I moved to St. Louis for a year when I was in the fourth grade and I started swimming there for a club team named Rockwood,” Plank said. “When I moved back here, I started swimming for Springfield Aquatics. Swimming has always been my first sport. I love swimming. But about a year ago I stopped swimming competitively to play volleyball.”

This winter, Plank is trying to balance swimming and her role as a settler and right-side hitter for her club volleyball team, 417 Net Results.

Such double-duty makes for a hectic schedule.

“The reason I stopped swimming competitively was because it got to be too much for me,” Plank said. “It’s kind of hard to make both swimming and volleyball practices work. I’m very busy with homework, swimming and volleyball. Pete is pretty flexible about it. I come in when I can and swim just like everyone else. I get my work done and get my laps in.”

“I understand her love for volleyball and I’m excited she’s swimming,” Hill added. “We’ll be flexible so she can work on both.”

Nixa will open its season in the Springfield All-Relays Meet on Thursday.

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