SARTELL, Minn. (WCCO) — It’s quite an accomplishment to set a state record in a sport, but how about doing it as an eighth grader?
Sartell-St. Stephen swimmer Marisa Wood did just that. She’s now a junior and has broken her own state record several times since.
“I actually hated swim lessons. I threw a fit every time I had to go,” said Marisa.
Hearing that, you would never guess she has grown in to the athlete she is today. Marisa won state as a seventh grader in the 500 freestyle and then broke the state record as an eighth-grader.
“It was really exciting because that was my goal. It pushed me through the whole race,” said Wood.
Her record time hangs on the wall at Sartell High School along with a list of other state records she’s broken over the years.
“Up here in Sartell she is the fastest there has ever been. In my lifetime I have never coached a boy or girl swimmer faster than she is,” said Coach Dave Olson.
Olson said Wood is a one-girl motivational swim team. Her success began early as a seventh grader and she has inspired younger swimmers in the program to shoot for state early on. She’s also a role model in the classroom.
“She’s an A+ person in the classroom, in the water, and in life. She doesn’t expect anything but the best,” said Olson.
Marisa is just a junior so more state records could be broken and more state titles could be won, adding to nearly a dozen gold medals already. She has Olympic aspirations, but in the meantime she will work to make herself and her team even better.
Her message to the younger swimmers out there is clear.
“Take their advice. Take the advice of the coaches. You can do anything you want if you set your mind to it,” said Wood.
Wood said part of her motivation is that every year the younger swimmers get faster, and that challenges her to be better.
Her mom was also a swimmer and introduced her to the sport. Wood said she plans on swimming at a college that also has a good science program after she graduates next year.