McFarland High School girls swimming coach Jessica Garvey remembers Emily Landwehr as a young girl competing with the McFarland Sharks club team and constantly showing the grit and determination to get better.
“I knew her as a little spitfire in the fifth and sixth grade,” said Garvey of Landwehr, who will continue her swimming with the Butler University women’s team.
Landwehr recently signed a letter of intent to attend the Indianapolis-based school after a remarkable high school career in which she qualified for the WIAA Division 2 state tournament all four years.
Selecting Butler ended Landwehr’s two-year search for a school that would adequately balance her needs for swimming and academics. She intends to major in biochemistry.
Landwehr, who was valedictorian of the 2020 graduating class, said she considered other schools such as Carnegie-Mellon and Swarthmore College before deciding on Butler.
She said with its Indianapolis location, she should have greater opportunities for internships.
She began swimming in the fourth grade and never thought she would succeed as much as she did in the sport.
“I’ve enjoyed swimming, I’ve enjoyed the water, but I never thought it would come to anything like this,” Landwehr said.
Landwehr had 10 career podium finishes in the state tournament, including first place in the 200-yard medley relay with teammates Ella Weaver, Alex Moderski and Mara Freeman in 2018.
In 2019, Landwehr tied for third in the 100-butterfly, took second in the 100-breaststroke, and participated in 200-medley relay that finished second and the 400-freestyle relay that took fifth.
McFarland won the second-place trophy after finishing behind Madison Edgewood in team points.
Landwehr said she will miss the electric atmosphere of the state tournament.
“You can feel it when you are standing on the blocks and when you are looking up at the stands,” she said. “State is a very team-driven thing, because while you swim individually, all your points add up as a team. Everyone contributes.”
Garvey said it has been rewarding to see Landwehr develop into an accomplished swimmer and a great team leader who can communicate and motivate younger athletes.
She said Landwehr is ready for the pressure that goes along with being a collegiate swimmer.
“She’s been in those high-pressure situations (in state and club swimming). She’s been in highly competitive meets at state and national level that have really helped prepare her for the next step,” Garvey said.
Landwehr said high school years were enjoyable not just in the swimming pool but also in the classroom. However, it went by very fast.
“All of a sudden, I woke up and I was a senior. But it’s been super fun,” she said. “I enjoyed all the classes I took, and I would not trade those four years for anything.”