Winter Preps Spotlight: Summit High’s Emily Sandberg, Stephanie Schulman, Abby Charneskie and Abby Hiller |

Winter Preps Spotlight: Summit High’s Emily Sandberg, Stephanie Schulman, Abby Charneskie and Abby Hiller

Interviewed by Phil Lindeman
Summit High School winter athletes (left to right): sophomore Alex Barela, senior Abby Hiller, senior Dean Vangsnes, junior Kassidy Pothier, junior Dimitri Preciado, senior Morgan Payne, junior Emily Sandberg, senior Karina Gonzalez, senior Stephanie Schulman, senior Abby Charneskie, senior Andrew Shaw.
Phil Lindeman / |

Editor’s note: This is Part Two of a three-part series on 2016-17 winter sports athletes. Read on for Part One with Nordic skiers, wrestlers and swimmers, and Part Three with boy’s and girl’s basketball.

This swimming and diving season has already been one for the record books.

At the very first meet of the season, the Summit High School girl’s swim team broke not one, not two, but three school records: the 200-yard freestyle relay, 400 freestyle relay and 100 individual backstroke. In 15 years, head coach Jenni Wischmeyer has never sent a single relay to the state championships meet — let alone two in the same winter.

“I’m really looking forward to the season,” Wischmeyer said before the Lady Tiger Invite on Jan. 14, the largest home meet of the regular season. “We have a lot of hard work to do in the next five weeks, but to have girls already qualified for state, that has motivated everyone that good things can happen.”

Words of wisdom. A week after the Lady Tiger Invite, the Summit Daily sports desk caught up with two of the swim team’s state qualifiers and two of the dive team’s senior captains for a look at the final tough weeks of the season. These Tigers have already made the cut for state — now they just need to prove they belong there.

Emily Sandberg | Tigers swimming

Emily Sandberg is one or two records away from dominating the Summit swimming record board. The 17-year-old is the anchor for both of the Tigers state-qualified relays — the 200 free (1:51.06) and 400 free (4:11.05) — which also double as new school records. She regularly finishes a 50-yard freestyle in 26 seconds, giving relay mates Abby Lau, Hannah Anderson and Katerina Lee a boost at the end. And the best part for head coach Wischmeyer: Sandberg is only a junior.

First swimming memory: My neighbor is a couple years older than me and she used to swim. I had always wanted to swim because I loved being in the water as a child. I have always loved the sport, but I wanted (and still do) to get faster and faster, which has kept me in the sport for so long.

My swim team highlight: Swimming the 200 free last weekend for the first time this season, and qualifying for state. I had a bad shoulder injury freshman and sophomore year, resulting in surgery last year, so I haven’t been able to swim that race.

Also, the medley relay at the league meet last year. We were so close to states, but missed the cut by a couple hundredths of second. Even though it was a bit of a disappointment, it was definitely the race to look forward to each meet.

My favorite memory out of the pool: Trying to distract coaches and do anything to not get in the pool on time.

If I weren’t swimming…: I have always wished that I could play hockey. I love watching it but have never had the chance to play on a team before.

Pre-meet meal: Pancakes the morning of the meet.

Post-win celebration: Eating a big meal and a long nap.

Pump-up music: “Lord Willin’,” by Logic.

My pre-meet ritual: I have a pair of goggles that I will only wear during races. I’ve had them for like four years, but I’ve never worn them at practice.

Biggest rival in the pool: Myself. Swimming is all about self-improvement. I just try to beat my best times every race.

Stephanie Schulman | Tigers swimming

It’s captain Stephanie Schulman’s year to swim at state. The senior is a four-year veteran of the team and started her career in China, where her parents would take her to youth meets. She fell in love with competing after she moved to Summit County and started swimming with the Silverthorne Tsunami club at the Silverthorne Recreation Center. Now, almost a decade after her first meet, the 17-year-old has one final shot to at the big show, and she’s making a run for it in the 100-yard breaststroke and 500-yard freestyle.

First swimming memory: I started swimming when I lived in China and my parents would take me to meets, and I would cry the whole time. Once we moved to Summit I began to swim on the Silverthorne Tsunami club team. Suzanna Barth was the coach who sparked my love for swimming, and because of her I have been swimming year-round ever since.

My swim team highlight: All of the lasting friendships I’ve created. My team means a lot to me. They motivate me during practices and especially at meets, and I couldn’t imagine the sport without them.

My favorite memory out of the pool: Bus rides to our league meet in Grand Junction because we have so much time to all hang out together. It’s usually the last meet of the season with the whole team so it is our last chance to be together.

If I weren’t swimming…: I don’t think I would be on a high school team, but I would be skiing a lot.

Pre-meet meal: I eat oatmeal for breakfast and usually pasta the night before.

Post-win celebration: I like to talk to my teammates and my coaches about the race, and to get my splits so I know what to work on.

Pump-up music: I listen to most music, but mainly the rap playlists my brother makes.

My pre-meet ritual: Every time I get on the blocks before my race I always adjust my goggles to make sure they’re on correctly. I also wipe the front lenses, right before we have to “take your marks.”

Biggest rival in the pool: Since swimming is an individual sport, my biggest rival is definitely myself and the clock. I am the only one who can push myself to do better in a race.

Abby Charneskie | Tigers diving

Abby Charneskie has come a long way in a short time. When the senior was a freshman, she joined the diving team and was almost immediately “petrified of the board,” she says. The height was intimidating, the dives were intimidating and the thought of smacking her face was very real. Then she dove, and the 17-year-old has been with it ever since. She now holds co-captain honors with her fellow senior, Abby Hiller, and has four meets remaining to make the state list.

First diving memory: The first time I dove I was petrified of the board. I thought it was so high, and all I could imagine was falling flat on my face. After I got over my fear and realized it was about throwing hard and not giving up, I started to love it. I’ve continued to do it because it makes me overcome my fears and helps me in the real world.

My dive team highlight: When I learned my reverse somersault and ripped it on my first try.

My favorite memory out of the pool: During practice, we all dance to the music that’s playing and just have a good time. There’s no judgment and everyone looks ridiculous.

If I weren’t diving…: If I didn’t dive I would do gymnastics because I was a gymnast until sixth grade and I would love to come back to it.

Pre-meet meal: Peanut butter sandwiches.

Post-win celebration: To be with my teammates.

Pump-up music: We love to listen to music with a good beat drop. It makes each dive feel more powerful.

My pre-meet ritual: Before each competition, we get in a circle and yell, “Send it!” and usually we include all the divers from the other teams.

Biggest rival on the board: Grand Junction, because they’re incredible.

Abby Hiller | Tigers diving

Like her fellow captain, senior Abby Hiller didn’t know what to expect from the dive team when she joined as a freshman, other than the chances of smacking something were pretty high. And now, like her co-captain, she’s left those early fears far, far behind her. The 17-year-old took second place at the Lady Tiger Invite and regularly places in the top-three at league meets.

First diving memory: The first time I dove was at my first diving practice as a freshman. I was pretty scared of going off the board and smacking my face on the water. As I started to learn new dives though, I became more confident and learned to just go for the dives. I’ve continued to dive because I love being able to progress and learn new dives. I also just love the team environment.

My dive team highlight: Working on perfecting my front double somersault because it was a dive that I was initially scared of, but now I’m able to (perform it) much better.

My favorite memory out of the pool: Our practices because they are so easygoing and fun, and we really get to interact and support each other in learning new dives while listening to music and goofing around.

If I weren’t diving…: I would be doing gymnastics because I used to do gymnastics and I still love it.

Pre-meet meal: Almonds and yogurt.

Post-win celebration: Go out to lunch with my teammates.

Pump-up music: I like to listen to so many different artists and genres of music while practicing because there are so many girls on the team who like different music. I would probably say we listen to a lot of 80’s and reggae music, as well as modern pop during practice.

My pre-meet ritual: I like to sort of meditate and get myself in a positive mindset.

Biggest rival on the board: Durango, because they have so many graceful, skilled divers.

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