Pine Crest’s Marta Ciesla Gives Up High School States To Represent USA
By Sharon Robb
October 2, 2015–Marta Ciesla of Pine Crest will give up competing at states to represent the United States for the first time at the FINA/Airweave World Cup Series in November in the Middle East.
The junior three-time Class A state champion, is the only high school swimmer from Florida selected to the 18-and-under USA Swimming team.
Ciesla will compete with her high school team at the Oct. 22 District 10A meet. She is expected to swim in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle and two relays.
Ciesla, who turns 17 on Oct. 13, is a two-time defending state champion in the 100-meter freestyle and one-time defending state champion in the 50-meter freestyle.
She will then join the U.S. team for processing in Washington, D.C. on Oct. 28 before departing for Qatar.
Ciesla will compete in Doha, Qatar, Nov. 2-4 and Dubai, Nov. 6-8. The FHSAA State Class 1A meet is Friday, Nov. 6.
“It was such a hard decision,” Ciesla said. “When USA Swimming emailed me about being selected there was an instant ‘OMG yes’ that went through my mind. It’s pretty cool being the only swimmer from Florida.
“Then I realized it was during states and it was a big conflict for me. I didn’t want to let my team down. I talked to the team and they told me they were so proud of me and that I had to go because it’s just an awesome experience.”
Veteran Pine Crest coach Jay Fitzgerald echoed the team’s sentiments.
“It is an incredible honor to represent your country on the national team,” Fitzgerald said. “As much as she wanted to support her high school team this is a unique opportunity. She has to learn she needs to make certain choices to be successful. This is part of that process.
“There are those people who want to take pictures and get the meet t-shirt,” Fitzgerald said. “Then there are those who go there to compete and represent their country against some of the best juniors from Australia, China and other countries. This will give her the confidence to believe she belongs there and can compete at that level.”
Ciesla, a 2016 U.S. Olympic trials qualifier and junior national champion, is one of five girls selected. An eight-member boys’ team was also chosen.
Currently, Ciesla is ranked No. 1 in the county honor roll in the 50-yard freestyle (23.33) and 100-yard freestyle (51.11) for the No. 1-ranked Panthers. She is No. 7 in the U.S. and among the Top 40 in the world.
At the USA Junior Nationals in San Antonio, Tex. this past summer, Ciesla broke Olympic superstar Missy Franklin’s 18-and-under age group record in the 50-meter freestyle in 25.07.
Ciesla calls her selection “my second chance.” She was asked to represent the U.S. at the Aug. 25-30 FINA World Junior Championships in Singapore but turned the trip down to spend time with her grandparents and family in Poland.
“I had already passed up one chance,” Ciesla said. “I knew it was a great opportunity to represent the U.S. and get the experience of competing at the international level.
“The feeling is indescribable. I am so excited to go and represent the USA for the first time ever. I will put pressure on myself because I want to do well. My coach told me to treat it as the most important meet of my life like I did with juniors.”
Ciesla’s next big meet is the Oct. 17 Woodson Invitational at her home pool.
Joining Ciesla on the U.S. girls team are Cassidy Bayer of Nation’s Capital Swim Club, Erin Earley of Hopkins Mariner Swim Team, Courtney Harnish and Meghan Small, both of York YMCA.
Florida Swim Network