Jacobs senior Alex Reinbrecht is doing less thinking these days.
And it's made all the difference in the world.
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Reinbrecht, part of the District 300 co-op boys swimming team, adjusted his mental approach in the pool.
"I'm definitely much more relaxed when I race now," he said. "For me it's made quite a significant difference. I swim all types of races and think a lot about them. When I start thinking too much about what I'm doing, I don't do as well. If I relax and don't think about things, I swim quite well."
Reinbrecht's change in approach has landed him back at the IHSA state finals meet for the fourth year in a row. Reinbrecht will swim the 200 free and the 500 free Friday at Evanston Township High School.
Reinbrecht said he's going out faster and has trained harder in the 200, while he's worked on holding a faster pace in the 500. Reinbrecht won Fox Valley Conference and sectional titles in both events this season.
Reinbrecht owns the second-fastest sectional times in the state in both the 200 and the 500. He swam 1:41.84 in the 200. Only Chatham Glenwood's Stuart Hohm swam a faster sectional time (1:41.51). Reinbrecht went 4:37.24 in the 500. Normal U-High's Jake Miller had the fastest sectional time at 4:35.47.
"I've been working on a faster pace than normal in the 500," he said. "I've been working on it the whole season, not just a couple meets here and there."
Reinbrecht qualified for state in the 200 medley relay as a freshman and now is getting a third-straight crack at swimming both the 200 and 500 on the biggest stage of all.
"The state meet experience helps," he said. "Getting back means a lot to me. Freshman year I set out to go to state and make it in anything I could and made it in the relay. I missed qualifying in the 500 by less than a second. That gave me fuel for the fire and made me want to train even harder.
Reinbrecht, who would like to study nursing and swim in college, wants to end his high-school swimming career on a high note this weekend.
"I want to try and place as high up there as I can," he said. "Finishing in the upper half of finals is something I'm definitely going to try for. I want to go out and have fun. This is the last race of my high-school career. I'm going to go for it."
Reinbrecht's sophomore teammate Francis Ogaban qualified for state in the backstroke with a sectional time of 53.68.
Crystal Lake South senior Adam Eibel, who swims on the Cary-Grove co-op team, will swim in the breaststroke after qualifying with a time of 59.98, which blew his previous personal best of 1:01.33 out of the water.
"I've put in a lot of hard work all season," he said. "This is my senior year. I'm most likely not going to swim in college. This is going to be it. I made sure I stayed after practice and made sure I didn't miss out on yardage. I hit the weight room. I have a lot more drive this season. I wanted to reach a time where I would get to state."
Eibel said from a technique standpoint he's narrowed his stroke.
"That's played a big role, but other than that I attribute this to hard work," he said.
Eibel, who ranks seventh academically in the South senior class and has the opportunity to attend the University of Pittsburgh on an academic scholarship, wants to leave it all in the pool this weekend.
"I will be happy with a best time and moving up in place," he said. "I want to make this a meet I will remember the rest of my life."
Bartlett junior Matthew Lee swam the 11th-fastest sectional time in the breaststroke (58.85). Lee, who finished third in the Upstate Eight Conference in the event and won a sectional title last week, is a first-time state qualifier.
"I've worked on a lot of drills, done a lot of weight lifting and have been working on short sprints and my turns," he said. "I've been working hard on my finishes. Everybody at the state meet is really close. It will be all about the finish."
Lee, who beat the state-qualifying cut by 2 seconds and would like to place in the top 6 at state, credits more than just practice for his improvement.
"Qualifying for state means a lot to me because of my family, teammates and coaches," he said. "I couldn't have done this without my parents. They drove me to practice and motivated me to do swimming. It also means a lot because it's been a long time since some Bartlett guys got to state."
His Hawk teammate, Tyler Klatt, also qualified for state in the backstroke. He has the 15th-fastest sectional time (52.61).
"I wasn't really rested for the sectional," said Klatt, a sophomore. "I was pretty happy with how I did. I've been working on pushing my underwaters more and picking up the tempo with my arms and working on my turns as well."
Klatt also has his sights set on making it to Saturday's finals.
"At the state meet you have to make sure you do everything right," he said. "Everything is so close there. The tempo is fast. You have to work hard and hit the walls just right. I'm hoping to go there and enjoy the experience of it all and swim against the best."