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All-Area: Three-peat: RMA's Miller caps decorated swim career with pair of state titles

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Rocky Mount Academy senior Kayla Miller is the Telegram's 2018-19 girls' swimmer of the year. Miller won state championships in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle events at the NCISAA state meet in February. Miller, a three-time winner of the Telegram's All-Area award, will swim next season at the University of Utah.

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By PATRICK MASON
Sports Writer

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Kayla Miller wasn’t done making her mark on the high school swimming scene.

The Rocky Mount Academy senior, who is heading to the University of Utah on a swim scholarship, had lofty goals, none of which involved winning races. Instead, Miller aligned her training to put her in position to beat the clock.

And it turns out that in chasing the clock, she picked up a pair of state championships along the way. She is the Telegram’s 2018-19 girls’ swimmer of the year.

“I was able to improve from practicing all the time every day,” she said. “I had to because I had big goals for the state meet. Going under 51 (seconds) was my main one and I was really excited to do that.”

Miller needed just 50.91 seconds to finish the 100-yard freestyle. It was the first time she swam faster than 51 seconds in the race, and the victory sealed her third consecutive NCISAA state championship in the event.

“That was the first time, and I'm pretty sure it was my only time, doing that,” Miller said of swimming a sub-51. “I didn’t even taper that much. I rested a couple days before, but since it was a meet where all I did was the 100 and 50, I wasn’t as tired. Most of the time in club the 100 is on the last day of a four-day meet, so here I wasn’t as tired.”

In her other individual race, the 50 freestyle, Miller touched in 23.59 and earned her first state title in the event after placing runner-up the previous two seasons.

Miller’s dominance over the past three seasons is highlighted by those three consecutive 100 freestyle state championships. The first, coming during her sophomore season, was won by the slimmest of margins — .01 seconds. Miller won again as a junior last season, then tore up the pool in February with a pair of championships in the 50 and 100 freestyle to cap a remarkable career.

In fact, her two swims this season were almost state records.

She was a combined .47 seconds off two state records. Her 100 freestyle time just missed the state record of 50.57. And her 50 free time was just off the state record of 23.46.

“I didn’t think I was going to be that fast, but it did feel good. Like, I felt strong the whole time,” Miller said. “And that was the main goal of that meet. I had my sights set on the state record and I didn't get it, but I wasn’t disappointed at all because it was my last meet and I was happy with how it went.”

In a recent interview, Miller revealed her least favorite stroke, talked about her favorite post-swim meal and recalled her favorite moment from this past season as part of the Telegram’s All-Area series.

Year after year you continue to swim faster. Do you feel that you can keep that going and take down more time barriers?

Definitely. Every little detail matters, like getting stronger out of the pool. In college, for me to keep dropping, it’ll be about doing weights and more dryland stuff that will definitely help. That, and focusing on the small details of each part of the race.

Is your college team giving you workouts, or leaving you to your club team?

They say to keep doing what you’re doing. They’re not giving me specific things. They understand that all of us are swimming with our clubs before we get to campus.

Do you have any goals for your first college season?

Not right now. I think I’m taking it as it goes. It’s going to be fun and totally different, so I'll see how it goes.

What’s your favorite post-swim meal?

Probably either going to Panera and getting a cinnamon crunch bagel and mac and cheese, or Noodles & Company getting pesto pasta. Definitely anything pasta; I eat that all the time.

If you could imagine a dream job, what would it be?

I have no idea what I want to do yet, but maybe like doing something with the ocean. Yeah, working with the ocean because I love the beach. Maybe doing something with sea life.

When winter hits in Utah will you be excited about the colder weather?

I don’t know, I don’t like the cold that much. I prefer the summer and going to the beach, but I'm still excited. It’ll be something different. I’ll just wear lots of clothes and bundle up.

Back to swimming. What’s your least favorite stroke?

Backstroke.

How come?

I just can’t figure it out. I can do it in a race just fine, but during practice I just can’t do it. It’s something about my stroke, like my pull or something. It’s definitely a work in progress.

Do you have a favorite movie?

I don’t really have one. It depends what mood I'm in I guess.

When you think back on this season, what comes to mind first?

It was definitely at states when we did the (200 freestyle) relay. We ended up coming back to place third. That was really exciting because there were a lot of young swimmers on the relay and we got to go up on the podium after the race. There was a seventh grader and an eighth grader on that team and one 10th grader. It was really fun.

First team

Kayla Miller, Rocky Mount Academy

Sarah Hicks, Nash Central

Kylie Grace Billups, Nash Central

Clara Lord, Rocky Mount High

Jenna Lavely, Rocky Mount High

Honorable mention

Katie Moss, Rocky Mount High

Madeline Dalismer, Rocky Mount High

Kathryn Osterhout, Rocky Mount High

Grace Wright, Northern Nash

Phoebe Atkins, Northern Nash

Sophia Atkins, Northern Nash

Allison Smith, Nash Central

Rachel Winston, Nash Central

Ava Lavely, Rocky Mount Academy

Virginia Grey Newton, Rocky Mount Academy

Mary Ferrell Chafin, Rocky Mount Academy

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