FOSTORIA - There's a pro and con side to experience, especially when it comes to Ashlyn Roberts.
The Fostoria senior makes her return to the Division II state swim meet today, one year after taking 14th in the 50 free to gain All-Ohio honors.
That's the pro side, that she knows what to expect and what's expected of her.
Then there's the other thing, her penchant for keeping things exciting.
Last year's trip to the consolation finals came only after she had to win a swim off - in a school-record time of 24.7 seconds, lopping a tenth of a second off the school record she set one week earlier at the district meet.
"That was certainly a first year to remember," Fostoria coach Amy Stultz said. "She doesn't like to do it the easy way, she likes to make it challenging; keeps us on our toes."
Fast forward to last Friday.
Roberts finished the 50 free in a school-best time of 24.67 seconds, but took only eighth. Each district winner advanced automatically, with the rest of the state field of 24 filled with at-large bids from the district meets. And those announcements didn't come for a few days.
But Roberts wasn't worried, at least not until the time for the announcement.
"I wasn't as concerned as I think everybody around me was. I was pretty confident about my time," she said. "I knew it was going to be really hard to make it, I knew it was going to be close, but I just felt confident.
"But I was still freaking out on Sunday," Roberts said.
Stultz said she was on edge a bit longer - from the end of the race until the qualifiers were named.
"It was a little nerve-wracking just waiting to see, playing the numbers game, waiting for all the districts to report," Stultz said.
But Roberts made it, earning a return to the C.T. Natatorium in Canton, where she's seeded 21st in the 50 free.
Again, the low seed isn't much of an obstacle.
Roberts was seeded 17th last year, and enters this year's event with a goal of hitting the low 24s if not a sub-24 in the race, a time that would vault her up among those seeded in single digits.
And if there's one things working in her favor, Stultz said, it's not having to worry and wonder about what to expect.
"Having last year as her first year [to state] took away some of those nerves," Stultz said. "She's still nervous and she still wants to do well, but she's not as afraid of missing things and being in the wrong
spot at the wrong time. She doesn't have to worry about those little things that we had to worry about last year. She can focus on her race."
And as with after her district race, Roberts said she has confidence.
"Last year, it was my first time, I was pretty much by myself the entire time, it was really nerve-wracking, I didn't know what to expect. There were a ton of swimmers there that I knew were very fast. I just wasn't confident," she said.
"But this year I know what's ahead of me, I know what's coming up. I can prepare for it mentally to a degree," Roberts said. "I'm definitely more headstrong going into this meet and it's a lot more exciting because everyone is within a tenth of each other, so it can go either way."