Girls swimming & diving preview spotlight: Pearl leads Kirkwood on state title quest | Girls Swimming

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KIRKWOOD — Ella Pearl always is prepared.

The Kirkwood High senior swimmer can come up with a joke at a moment’s notice.

“Knock, knock jokes are her favorite,” said her mother, Janet. ” Any time, any place, she’ll break one out.”

Morning, noon or night, Pearl has the uncanny ability to lighten a mood with one or two quick sentences.

“Usually, they are at a time where everybody is real serious,” Kirkwood senior teammate Julie Obertop said. “It makes everyone relax and laugh.”

A prankster out of the water, Pearl is all business once she hits the pool.

This season, the talented sprinter will be looking to claim her third successive state championship in the 100-yard backstroke, her signature event. Pearl also won the 200 individual medley crown and helped the Pioneers’ 200 medley relay team to a first-place finish last year.

Thanks in part to Pearl’s three gold medals, and a strong, deep lineup, Kirkwood came tantalizingly close to its first team crown but finished second to Marquette 242-237 at last year’s Class 2 championship meet.

With Pearl leading a balanced attack, that team championship could be well within reach.

“This season has been building up for the last four years,” Pearl says. “I’m really excited for what’s to come.”

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