First off, Lauren Witte is a fantastic swimmer. Let’s establish that fact before we even leave the diving board because the diving board is where we will begin to show how Lauren is an even better and special person than she is a (fantastic) swimmer.
Many people in Dexter, and everyone in the swimming and diving community, know all about Lily Witte, Lauren’s “little sister.” It’s hard not to, considering Lily is one of the best young divers in the entire country. Lily has been on Team USA for over four years, and has dove for the United States in international competition on three continents.
Yes, this story is about Lauren but the best way to get to know Lauren is to hear her talk about her “little sister.” You might want to sit down, this is going to take a while.
“My little sister Lily is an amazing athlete and person,” says Lauren. “She is very humble and low key and never brags (or even talks) about her accomplishments. I was lucky enough to get to go to Europe and South America and see her compete for the USA last year.”
Lauren says the two sisters are really close and very supportive of each other.
“We are always there for each other,” she says. “I can always count on her being there for me, and she can count on me. She is very motivational and inspirational to me. She has the heart of a champion.”
That success comes from hard work, something not lost on her older sister.
“Last year, she skipped the traditional pre-meet State Team dinner the night before states at her favorite restaurant Cottage Inn and went to her club practice,” Lauren says. “When I asked her why, she said, ‘Coach Bergen needs me to score as many points for the team as I can, so I need to nail that last dive.’” She put the team needs ahead of having fun and celebrating, and did everything she possibly could to help the team.”
Lily, only a freshman, took first and set the Oakland University pool record. And thanks to all three of Dexter’s divers, Dexter moved up from ninth to fourth place when all the points were added up.
“She is much more selfless and giving than people realize,” Lauren says. “She is a national champion many times over, so she doesn’t even have to dive in high school, let alone swim, but she does whatever she can to help the team. There is no way anyone could do what she does unless you truly love the sport as much as she does.
“I am so happy that I have had the opportunity to have two seasons together with her on the team; and so proud of how she just jumps in and helps the team however she can. She’s a pretty fast sprinter and flyer too. When we get to swim a relay together, it’s really special.
“I see her dedication and how hard she trains, and it pushes me to train hard, too.”
Many of the words and phrases Lauren uses to describe her sister are obviously family traits. Now a senior, Lauren also is humble, gracious, hard-working, team orientated and very talented.
Let’s start with very talented. As a sophomore, Lauren made it to States in the backstroke. The next year she made the state team in the backstroke and fly and got to swim on a relay for the Dreadnaughts. She broke a minute in the 100 back as a junior and also qualified for USA Swimming Sectionals.
Team orientated? Don’t get her started, because we might be here for a while …
“The DHS team is great,” she says. “We all support each other, we all care about each other, and help push each other to be the best swimmers and divers we can be. Everyone gets along well. We all respect each other and there is no drama.
“The team goals are to win SECs, and place in the top four at States – we want that trophy again!”
This year, Lauren is one of the Dexter team captains, a role she takes very seriously and one she is very proud to have.
“My role as a captain is to help out and serve the team as much as I can,” she says. “I try and make everyone feel welcome and reinforce that every team member matters and can contribute. We need every member on this team. I try to encourage and motivate everyone, and to push them to be their best. I want to help each girl have the best season they can and make their goals, whatever they may be. I also try to stay positive and flexible, because with COVID, things can change in an instant.”
Lauren, the daughter of Wade Witte and Trudy Zedaker-Witte, has tried to stay positive and upbeat during these difficult challenges. The pandemic has certainly been a game changer in and out of the pool.
“It’s not as bad as I thought it was going to be, and the starting time of 9:30 a.m. for our first class really helps with the sometimes exhaustive swim season,” she says. “Believe it or not, it seems less stressful. I have more time throughout the day to focus on my studies, but I do miss seeing my friends in person.”
Lauren was on her way to the USA Sectionals meet in March in Wisconsin when they got the call that everything was being shut down. It was definitely disappointing because she had worked so hard to get to that meet and level of swimming to measure herself against the best.
When all the pools were shut down, Lauren looked for other ways to stay in shape and get ready for the season.
“I knew I just couldn’t sit around, so I started running and doing other things at home to try and stay in shape,” she said. “When Fuller pool opened in July, I got up every morning at 6:45 a.m. to try and get a lane in the 7 a.m. lane lottery (all timeslots were taken within 2 minutes so I learned to type really fast. I swam as many days as I could get a lane at Fuller.”
Lauren even got a job as a lifeguard at a private beach so she could swim some laps during her break. The hard work was rewarded when the season was given the green light.
“When we got the go ahead, it was fast and furious pulling the season together,” she says. “We knew we were so lucky to have the opportunity to even have a season. It felt wonderful to be back with the TEAM.
“All this has brought me a new appreciation for the sport I love.”
Lauren, who also has been in the DHS Marching Band, Symphonic Band and Interact Club, is focused on her swimming. She’s already qualified for the States in the backstroke.
“My personal goal is to make the State Team in as many events as I can so I can contribute to our team goal of fourth place at the State meet,” she says. “I made my first State cut at our first home meet, and I am dropping time in other events. This season with starting so late and now SECs moved up a week is so very short, but it just challenges me to work harder.”
Just like her little sister.