Paige Pelikan should have been excited for what was a trip of a lifetime, a nearly three-week European family vacation with stops in Germany and Switzerland.
But she also had a valid reason to have trepidation. With the trip scheduled for Aug. 8-27 and high school swimming season set to begin Aug. 9, the New Berlin West junior was concerned with falling out of competitive shape if she did not find places to train while overseas.
"I was so hesitant that I wasn't sure I wanted to go on the trip," Pelikan said. "That's scary for me to say, but at the same time, I didn't want to mess up my swimming career because I was just getting good times. I wanted to maintain my training and make sure I didn't get out of shape so I could train the same way when I got back. I was definitely hesitant about going and wasn't 100 percent OK with going because I was missing that much time.
Pelikan decided to take matters into her own hands, seeking out a pool near where her family was staying in Lauf, Germany, and another in Spiez, Switzerland.
Despite language barriers and the lack of a team to push her while swimming, she trained each day of the trip off sets given to her by Vikings girls swimming coach Ryan Heft in order to stay ready for when she returned.
"I knew a month was a lot of time," Pelikan said. "I didn't want to get out of shape and lose my technique before my season started, so I really looked for a pool to train in. I was lucky enough to find one.
"The pool in Switzerland was my favorite because it had a view of the ocean and the whole town. As you looked out of the pool, you could see the docks with all the boats, the mountains and the houses."
Pelikan's dedication paid off, as she earned state berths in the 200-yard freestyle by taking second place at sectionals with a time of 1 minute, 58.21 seconds and in the 100 backstroke with a fourth-place finish at sectionals in 1 minute, 1 second.
She then earned two medals at the state meet, posting lifetime bests in the 200 freestyle (1 minute, 56.78 seconds) and the 100 backstroke (1 minute, 0.31 seconds).
"I had probably the most successful high school season I've had so far," Pelikan said. "I was worried when I got back that I wasn't going to be in shape. The first couple of weeks were hard getting back into things because it is different training alone than having a team there to push you. I was able to pick up my pace and get into the groove of things pretty quick."
Outside of knowing her training helped her have a successful high-school season, Pelikan later received a swim cap from the club team that trains at the pool in Germany, and her story was told in the club's newsletter.
"Wherever I go, I try to get a swim cap from each team to remember my experiences," Pelikan said. "I wasn't able to get one because I didn't know they had a club team at that pool. My uncle told me they have a team. He ended up getting a cap for me from the swim leader. They wanted to end up wanting information from me about my experiences over there, so they put me in their newsletter."