There were nine times in the 100 breaststroke better than Taylor Vargo's a year ago for the state meet.
And when it came time to swim, Vargo beat them all on her way to a Division I state championship.
Today the Sandusky sophomore enters with the No. 12 seed time (1:05.86) when she swims in the Division I preliminaries at 9 a.m.
"The first day I'm going to try and do my best to make finals," Vargo said. "The second day I just want to be top three again, and if I'm top three again that'll be great -- I'll be happy."
Vargo will swim the first individual event, the 200 freestyle, and the last individual event, the 100 breaststroke. She is the 17th seed in the 200 freestyle (1:54.88).
"I'm excited. I can't wait to swim," Vargo said.
As the area's only Division I swimmer at the state meet, she's had to wait the longest.
While the rest of the area swimmers competed in their preliminary races Thursday in the second of four days at C.T. Branin Natatorium in Canton, Vargo had an extra day of rest -- on top of the extra day she got since the Division I District Championships were Friday, while the rest of Division I swam on Saturday.
Vargo was second in both events at the district meet in Bowling Green, but her 2011 district time was better than the 2010 time (1:06.37).
"It was a lot better. I'm happy with how I swam. I tried to do my best without being fully ready for state," Vargo said. "I was fully ready for district and I had a better time and I'm happy with my swims."
And now that she knows what it's like to swim at the state championships and win a state title,
"Last year it was -- it was different," Vargo said. "Once you start going to big meets, it helps you get ready for the bigger meet, how deal with thre pressure and the crowd going crazy.
While most freshmen might walk around wide-eyed at the atmosphere of Branin, Vargo said she wasn't worried about heading into the finals with the No. 1-overall time after the prelims because she was just happy to leave with a medal.
"To be honest with you, I was in the top eight. So I wan't freaking out," Vargo said. "It was nerve-racking, but it was like all my other meets. Once you get in the water, there's nothing left (to worry about). You go all out."
At the bottom of Page 60 of the Ohio High School Athletic Association's Swimming and Diving program is the year-old photo of Vargo, a freshman at the time, standing atop the podium as a champion, flanked on both sides by seven other girls that day who weren't as fast as she was.
But that's no guarantee she'll make the climb to the top spot again or that her opponents will grimace with fear as she walks by.
"It may mess with their head. 'What is she going to do this year? How fast is she going to go,'" Vargo said. "It's another swim, it's another year. You never know sometimes."
What she does know is she's a one-woman show this year for the Blue Streaks.
"I wish we had other people from our team going. Hopefully we will next year, but I know a lot of them will be down there. It's not like Division II with Stephanie (Gyurke) and MacKenaie (Stewart) and Kim (Anglin)."
One familiar face she'll see in the breaststroke is Fremont Ross sophomore Laura Duncan.
"It's a different atmosphere where I won't have people (from my team) to talk to,"Vargo said, "but I can meet people."