MIDWEST CITY — When Anka Lukannek first swam at the Mid-Del swimming practice, the boys on the teams were impressed, but even worried she could beat them.
The foreign exchange student from Quakenbruck, Germany, is fast, and when that quickly became apparent to the rest of her Carl Albert teammates, they started trying to match or better her.
“It did push me, it did, having a girl that was faster than me,” Carl Albert junior Tim Hyland said.
While the boys team has improved, the Carl Albert girls team has gone from a team that failed to qualify a relay team or individual for the state tournament last season to all three relay teams qualifying; Lukannek has qualified individually in nearly every event.
Lukannek isn't exactly the team's savior, but she is its sunshine.
“I think I pushed them because we knew we could qualify for state,” she said. “Maybe I'm giving some of the people positive attitude, I don't know. I hope.”
She is best in the freestyle and has yet to decide what she will swim in at state, but is leaning toward the 50 and 100 freestyles.
But the state tournament comes later in her American journey.
Lukannek had always loved English. Then her cousin studied abroad in Idaho, talking nonstop the excitement that can be found in the United States.
That's when Lukannek decided she wanted to come to America, whereas a 16-year-old senior she has learned American football, attended Thunder games (she proudly owns a Kevin Durant jersey) and will experience a Sadie Hawkins Dance this weekend ahead of her only prom.
The other highlight came when she was able to represent the swim team in Carl Albert's homecoming parade when the team captain was unable to attend.
“It was so much fun,” Lukannek said. “Like, all the little kids waiting for the candy just waving at us; it was fun.”