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GIRLS SWIMMER OF THE YEAR: Brookwood's Muller outworks her way to top

Staff Photo: John Bohn Brookwood swimmer Rachel Muller posses for a portrait on the Brookwood campus. Muller is the Daily Post's Swimmer of the Year, she will swim for North Carolina State.

Staff Photo: John Bohn Brookwood swimmer Rachel Muller posses for a portrait on the Brookwood campus. Muller is the Daily Post's Swimmer of the Year, she will swim for North Carolina State.

Just a few days after the state swim meet, Rachel Muller sat down to watch the final races of her high school career.

The Brookwood swimmer wanted to get a different view of the race to see where she could get better.

"It's a different perspective of what you get to see as when you are swimming," Muller said. "It was cool because then you can learn from it."

It didn't matter if it was in the pool training or out of it, Muller always found the little things to work on and make her a better swimmer.

That hard work turned into a pair of runner-up finishes at the state meet and the honor of being the Daily Post's Swimmer of the Year.

"She's a good student of the game, does what it takes to be successful," Brookwood coach Greg Puckett said. "She probably out works anybody. She's dedicated, committed. She does all the small stuff that makes her a good swimmer."

Muller posted a time of 1 minute, 47.84 seconds in the 200-yard freestyle and 4:49.77 in the 500 free to take second in both events. She was runner-up to Kennesaw Mountain's Rebecca Postoll, the state's swimmer of the year, in both events.

"She unfortunately lost to good competition," Puckett said.

Muiller's finishes were automatic All-American times and rank among the top 10 in the country. The senior also did some damage to the school record book in her career.

She's in the top 10 in the 50 free, 100 butterfly and 100 freestyle for the county's most successful swim program.

"She's very versatile and very good in all of them," Puckett said.

Even more impressive is that her 200 free and 500 free times are Brookwood school records, breaking the old marks by Olympian Amanda Weir, who Muller now trains with at SwimAtlanta.

"I think it's kind of cool. I was at Flowers Crossing and Amanda was swimming there at the time," Muller said. "My parents would always tell me when I was 7 I would follow Amanda around on the pool deck and I would just look up to her. Now I train with her, it's just weird. I think it's a really cool experience."

When Muller got to high school, her parents Michael and Mary Muller told Puckett that she was a hard worker.

Puckett had heard the same line from many coaches over the years. But by the end of Muller's freshman year, he saw what they meant. She started moving up the training levels and times started to improve.

"It turns out, he was kind of dead-on," Puckett said. "She was a committed, very hard-working individual."

Muller climbed the ranks of the varsity as a freshman and reached the state meet in the 100 butterfly and 200 medley relay. She had another solid year as a sophomore, taking third at county in the 200 free and 100 butterfly and qualified for state.

Muller had her breakout season as a junior. She helped the Broncos clinch the county title with a dramatic come-from-behind win in the 400 freestyle relay.

"It was a freakishly fast swim," Puckett said. "I think from there she had the confidence to swim above any mental limitations."

Muller also won county titles in the 200 and 500 free, setting county meet records. The strong performance at county was just the beginning that season as she was state runner-up in the 200 and third in the 500 at state and helped the Broncos capture the state championship.

As a senior, Muller defended her county titles and got a big win over a state record holder. She beat Westminster's Nicole Stafford in a meet this season and Stafford went on to set the state meet record in the 200 free. Muller finished her career with a pair of runner-up finishes at the state meet.

"I think it was a good way to end my season," Muller said. "I would have liked to have won, but you can't change it."

Muller will take her talents to Raleigh, N.C., where she will swim for N.C. State and be roommates with best friend Lydia Jones from Archer.

"Rachel's a fine example when you talk to underclassmen. This is what you should do. You should be like Rachel Muller, train hard, this is the end result," Puckett said. "It pays off when you focus on the little things and you train effectively."