Barrington's Jacobsen breaks state record in 200 free
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Just for the record, the state record by Barrington sophomore Kirsten Jacobsen wasn't even the one she was expecting to set.
But in the finals of the girls swimming state meet at New Trier on Saturday afternoon, she had the perfect opponent next to her in the 200-yard freestyle.
Jacobsen was alongside Mundelein junior Erin Falconer, who'd qualified for the championship heat with the fastest time from Friday's preliminaries.
"Erin," explained Barrington coach Jim Bart, "is a good person for Kirsten to race."
With Falconer setting a fast pace in the first half of the race, Jacobsen's long, smooth, powerful stroke made the difference at the end.
Jacobsen won in 1:46.98, breaking the mark of 1:47.17 set by Kelly McNichols of Naperville Central in 2005. Falconer was second, right behind in 1:47.21.
A bit later in the meet, Jacobsen won again. This time it was the 500 free, but that race didn't have quite the same drama as the 200.
Jacobsen won again, and the only real question after she took a commanding lead was whether she'd be able to set another record.
She didn't, but came awfully close with a lifetime best performance. Jacobsen repeated as a state champ in the event, this time in 4:46.93 -- some three seconds faster than last year, and less than three-tenths of a second off the state record.
"I really thought, coming in to the season, that the 500 was the one I had a chance at getting," said Jacobsen with a grin. "But it's OK that it worked out the other way."
Bart has come to expect exceptional big-meet performances from Jacobsen but still is impressed with her low-key approach to the sport.
"For Kirsten, it's just all about swimming fast," he said. "She doesn't get too wrapped up in winning or losing -- she can take that with a grain of salt, however it turns out for her. But she really likes to race, and it shows."
After her individual triumphs, Jacobsen finished off her afternoon by leading off Barrington's 400 freestyle relay. She completed her leg in 50.35, a time which would have placed her third individually behind Gabby Sims (50.19) and Falconer (50.29).
The Fillies' relay quartet produced its fastest time of the season, 3:30.72, and finished eighth. That effort, combined with a 12th-place 50 free finish from senior Mekenna Scheitlin and Jacobsen's victories, put Barrington at 13th in the team standings with 43 points.
New Trier held of a spirited challenge from Downers Grove North to eke out a fourth straight team championship. The Trevians finished at 160.5, with the Trojans at 157 and Fenwick grabbing third place with 126. Downers Grove North senior Gabby Sims won twice, in the 100 back and 100 free, and anchored the Trojans' victorious 400 free relays. Fenwick senior Mimi Schneider won both the 50 free (22.87) and the 100 fly (53.86).
Fremd had just one race for the day, the 400 free relay at the end of the meet, and it was well worth the wait.
The Vikings foursome of Erica King, Grace Kneller, Saki Takumiya and Loretta Stelnicki finished ninth in 3:30.83, their fastest time of the year.
Stelnicki's anchor leg was the fastest 100 free relay split in program history at 51.7, and Kneller was close behind in 52.0.
All of which put a nice finish on what turned out to be a challenging weekend for the Vikings.
"We leave here hopefully having learned some things about this meet, and definitely proud of how we conducted ourselves," said Fremd coach Andrew Kittrell, who doesn't lose any of this year's state meet team to graduation. "I think of us as a team that got a taste of success, and we're hungry for more. That's a good place to be."
From its state team, Barrington graduates only Scheitlin, who has a future in swimming at Iowa ahead of her. But with Jacobsen and juniors Andrea Vega and Emma Barnett returning, the Fillies have plenty of reasons to anticipate an even better team finish next year.
It sure helps to have a swimmer of Jacobsen's caliber as a starting point. Her easy-going demeanor and commitment to the sport have won the admiration of her teammates.
Jacobsen's state relay partners were asked to describe their record-setting teammate with a single word. Their choices:
After the relay, the finality of the moment caught up with Scheitlin, a four-year state meet qualifier and leader for Barrington.
Through reddened eyes, the senior summed up how it felt to have competed on the state's biggest stage for Barrington.
"It's everything," she said. "I'm just sad it's over. These girls, my team ... they mean the world to me."
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