Life in the fast lane

Aurora Roghair ’21 has established herself as an all-around top swimmer in the state, allowing her to carry on her talent at the collegiate level.

For many high school athletes, some of their best memories are a big win over their cross-town rival or a trip to the state tournament, but not for Aurora Roghair ’21. 

Only a couple of months before COVID-19 took the world of sports by storm, Roghair competed at the TYR Pro Series in Des Moines and stepped up onto the block to swim the 1500m freestyle. In a couple of lanes next to her, there was Olympic gold medalist Katie Ledecky. 

“I was super excited to get the chance to race at this high level meet with elite competition. There were a lot of Olympian and pro-level swimmers there so it was really cool but also a little intimidating. It was the first race of the meet, but there was already a fun energy in the pool,” Aurora said. “I really wanted to focus on having fun with it and embracing the opportunity. It was definitely really crazy though and I had to remind myself to swim my own race.”

Aurora Roghair ’21 swims in the 400 free Relay at the Mercer Park Aquatic Center Oct. 17. (Owen Aanestad)

Swimming since the age of five, Aurora proved she is no stranger to the pool. Aurora not only found herself and her teammates dominating through the Mississippi Valley Division going undefeated in dual meets, but also on the top of the podium at the 2019 Iowa High School Girls Athletic Union state swimming and diving meet after being crowned the state champion in the 200 and 500 freestyle.

“It felt amazing and really meant a lot to me. It was such a fun meet and the best way to end my junior-year season. It was so cool seeing the team cheering on the sides and my family in the stands,” Aurora said.

This year, the Mississippi Valley Conference named Aurora the Valley Divisional Athlete of the year. This honor came after she competed in the virtual MVC conference meet against City High where she broke her own MVC record in the 200 freestyle and broke another of her own meet records in the 500 freestyle.

It’s no secret that you’ll see Aurora’s name on a pool record board, but these records and state championships wouldn’t have been accomplished without her work ethic during practice.  

“She’s a true leader, someone that not only has work ethic [but also] she shows up every single day, every practice, leads by example and does everything you ask her to do and furthering her swimming career and taking advantage of her abilities,” said Nate Mundt, Aurora’s club swim coach at Iowa Flyers swim club

“I always am so proud and excited for Aurora whenever she sets a new record because she deserves every record that she has and it shows that all of her hard work is paying off,” said Jade Roghair ’23, sister and teammate of Aurora. 

Although Aurora may be a sister to Jade, in the pool she is another teammate Jade can rely on.

“Swimming with Aurora provides me with someone that I can talk to if I didn’t like how I swam or felt during practice because she understands how mentally taxing it can be,” Jade said. “Outside of swim practices, Aurora is always there for me when I need help with my homework, supports me and constantly finds ways to make me laugh.”

According to teammate Olivia Taeger ’22, Aurora’s leadership is contagious in the pool.

“Swimming with Aurora every day makes me want to push myself as hard as she does,” Taeger said. “I don’t know if anyone will ever fill her shoes when she leaves for Stanford.”

Though leading a team in and out of the pool is a challenge in itself, Aurora also excels at getting herself in a competitive mindset for all levels of meets.

“If it’s in a high school race for West High or if it’s a club meet on a weekend for IFLY or if it’s a Pro Series meet or junior nationals, she wants to win,” Mundt said. “She wants to go out and prove herself, so I think overall that’s what her attitude has always been as far as I’ve seen and I know that’ll continue and carry on some great things in the future.”

Aurora feels grateful to have been part of the combined team of Liberty High and West High all four years of her high school career.   

“The Trojan Bolts swim team means a lot to me. The team is so supportive, hardworking and kind and I am so grateful for everything they do,” Aurora said. “The dynamic is truly one of a kind and I couldn’t have asked for a better team to be a part of.”

After leading the Trojan Bolts swim team to one of their best team finishes ever at the state meet last year, she hopes to continue what she loves at the next level.

“I’m really looking forward to training with the Stanford women, meeting new people, and making new friends,” Aurora said. “I’m very excited because I know I will be pushed to a new level both academically and athletically.”

Aurora hasn’t let the uncertainty of her senior season get in the way of competing for another state title. Roghair leads the state in four individual events despite losing three weeks of dual meets while being a part of the 400 free relay which leads the state with a time of 3:31.02. The girls swim team will compete at regionals for a trip to Marshalltown Nov. 7 at Linn Mar and then hope to continue to raise the bar and place as a team at the state meet.

“[Last year] was really fun and we’re ready to bring it back this year,” Aurora said. “I want to get another state title, but that comes after the team goal.”