That fourth year, it turns out, was well worth the wait.
Seniors Veronika Jedryka of Buffalo Grove and Amanda Petro of Hersey had both qualified for the girls swimming high school state meet every year, but neither had made the championship heat of an event.
Jedryka will compete in Saturday's finals of the 100-yard freestyle, and Petro will swim in the 100 backstroke finals after terrific performances in their best events at the state meet preliminaries at Evanston Township High School.
Both also get bonus opportunities to swim, as Jedryka is in the consolation heat of the 50 free and Petro is in the consolation heat of the 200 IM.
Petro liked her time of 56.62 in the 100 back prelims but had to sweat it out as the last heat finished up.
"It's kind of weird, you're watching these other girls swim and you're thinking to yourself, 'Go slow! Go slow!' " said Petro, who has committed to a college swimming career at Ohio State and plans to sign her national letter of intent early next week. "My main goal this year was to get into finals, so yeah, I'm really pleased."
Both of Petro's swims were lifetime bests.
Jedryka, who will swim in college at Northeastern, completed a remarkable transformation by advancing in the sprints. She'd excelled in the 200 and 500 as a freshman and sophomore but slowly became more dominant in the shorter races.
"She's got such long arms," said coach Tom Mroz. "We started working on her 'catch,' and that's when she really started to show some speed."
Jedryka has the fifth-fastest qualifying effort in the 100 free (51.39) and ninth-best in the 50 free (23.79).
Barrington, too, had a day worth celebrating.
Freshman Kirsten Jacobsen made the championship heat of both the 200 and 500 freestyle, sophomore Mekenna Scheitlin is the finals of the 50 freestyle and both Fillies' freestyle relays will compete in the consolation heat.
"So far, so good," said Barrington coach Jim Bart two-thirds of the way through the meet. "We feel pretty good about the how the day's gone."
Jacobsen qualified fourth in both her races. Bart said he thought there was room for improvement in both races.
Scheitlin's 50 times of 23.60 was both a lifetime best and a team record.
And Barrington both relays delivered season-best times. The 200 includes Andrea Vega, Scheitlin, Lisa Danhauer and Jacobsen; the 400 is Scheitlin, Emma Barnett, Kayla Widdowson and Jacobsen.
Barnett also produced a lifetime best and nearly advanced in the 500 free, finishing 15th in 5:03.61.
Fremd saved its best performance for last, as the 400 free relay of Erica King, Loretta Stelnicki, Saki Takumiya and St. Louis University-bound Breanna Anderson improved on its sectional time by about a second.
But coach Andrew Kittrell said a taper that may have started too early was too much too overcome.
"If it was just one or two kids who were 'off,' that's one thing," he said. "But this one's on me. We just didn't have that 'zip' that you need."
Prospect sophomore Dana Liva has a great chance at a top-six finish in diving. After eight dives, she's fifth at 288.35 -- but only a handful of points way from second place. Allegra Codamon of Zion-Benton has the top score of 307.75.
Barrington junior Tiffany Soto finished 18th in diving.
The top 12 finishers from prelims get another chance to race Saturday, as the swimming and diving finalists compete one more time in a session that begins at 1 p.m.
Glenbrook South senior Olivia Smoliga again wowed fans with two state record-breaking swims Friday. She won the 50 free in 22.21, and the 100 backstroke in 51.84.
Other top qualifiers included Hannah Boyd of Normal University in the 200 and 500 freestyle, Gia Dalesandro of Neuqua Valley in the 100 fly, Gabby Sims of Downers Grove North in the 100 free and Riley Hayward of New Trier in the 100 breaststroke.
New Trier is positioned to win its third straight team championship after a dominant performance in the prelims.Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.