It didn't take long for Marshalltown High School senior Chloe Kuehner to decide where she wanted to swim collegiately once she started taking her official visits.
The four-time state meet qualifier liked something about each of her final three schools but there was something about the University of Nebraska Omaha that just clicked.
Kuehner told the T-R she committed to the Mavericks swim program last Saturday after her final state meet and then made things official with NCAA Division I UNO Wednesday during the first day of the early signing period.
T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE
Marshalltown High School senior Chloe Kuehner, seated center, signs her National Letter of Intent to swim collegiately at the University of Nebraska Omaha, an NCAA Division I program. Kuehner was a state swimming qualifier each of her four seasons with the Bobcats. Seated with Kuehner are her parents, Angie and Tim, with MHS swim coaches Mike Loupee and Angie Nelson standing behind her.
"It's a great school and things just clicked for me there," said Kuehner, who held a signing session at the Roundhouse on Friday. "They have a fantastic coach, and I really like the town. It was just a great fit for me."
Kuehner also took official visits to Grinnell College and the University of South Dakota. She said she also selected UNO over North Dakota and Butler University.
"I am very happy to have Chloe join the Mav family," UNO head swimming coach Todd Samland said. "After getting to know her over the past six months, it's clear that she's going to bring more than swimming to our program.
"We believe and foster a close knit team and she models that very well. Her value of team gratitude fits extremely well also and is something that I want in an athlete."
Kuehner was a staple in Marshalltown's lineup for four seasons. She advanced to the state meet in all four years and competed in 10 events in all.
And what Bobcat coach Angie Nelson may miss most from one of her graduating seniors is Kuehner's versatilty.
The Bobcat senior literally swam every stroke. She was used in multiple ways for the betterment of the team. Her best stroke is considered the breaststroke but she was a state meet qualifier in the 200 individual medley, several freestyle relays as well as the medley relay where she swam the backstroke leg twice and the breaststroke leg twice.
"She would have been a nice fit anywhere she went because she can do so many strokes well," said Nelson. "College swim teams want kids to be able to fill several spots in the lineup, and they want versatile kids. She will provide them with that."
Kuehner is still unsure of what strokes the UNO coaching staff will have her do when she jumps into the Mavericks' pool next season.
And she doesn't really have a preference.
"I pretty much swim everything so I am willing to be used wherever they think I fit in with the team the best," Kuehner said. "The breaststroke has been my best event for a long time. I am looking forward to being able to compete in the 200 breaststroke in college."
Nelson agrees with Kuehner about the 200 breaststroke, an event not offered at the high school level in Iowa. That swim has the chance to be the Bobcat senior's best event at the collegiately level.
"Chloe has lots of endurance so I think she will be good in the distance strokes," Nelson said. "She has the strength to do it all, but she is strong in the stroke events."
When Kuehner is not swimming with her Marshalltown teammates at the high school, she is striving to get better with her USA club coach - Aron Nakama.
Nakama thinks the 200 breaststroke is an event Kuehner can excel in but also thinks that her best events moving forward could be ones she hasn't focused a lot of time on thus far in her career.
"The breaststroke can get harder the older you get," said Nakama. "She surprised herself this year in how fast she was in the backstroke. I think if she devotes more attention to it and the freestyle, she can be really good in both. I think she is going to take off when she gets to college.
"The 100 and 200 breaststroke are two completely different races. She can use her reach more in the 200 and that is right in the distance range of where she wants to be. She obviously has room for improvement, which is a good thing."
Kuehner is not the first Bobcat to swim in college and she likely won't be the last. But the legacy that her and her senior teammates will leave behind speaks for itself.
The medley relay team at this year's state meet scored points and earned a 15th place finish, which was the highest of any of the relays she competed on at state.
"I am really excited about college, but it's kind of bittersweet because I won't be swimming with my high school teammates anymore," said Kuehner. "The plan now is to start training for the college season. It is time to take that next step."
Before her senior season, Kuehner's best individual finish was her 13th place tally in the 100 breaststroke last year. She also was a part of a 16th place 200 freestyle relay squad as a freshman and a 17th place 400 freestyle relay team as a sophomore.
"With every passing year, some kids come and some kids go," Nelson said. "This was a pretty speical senior class. It's going to be tough to replace them.
"But seeing Bobcat swimmers move on to college should inspire the younger kids. They can move on if they want to. It takes hard work and it's not easy. And there is a time commitment. It takes work to get there but they can succeed if they work hard."