Jacobs senior Alex Reinbrecht had already qualified to the boys swimming state meet three times before -- on relays as a freshman, and the previous two seasons in the 200 and 500 freestyles.
And yes, he'd watched Saturday's event finals before, but only as a spectator.
Contact information ( * required )
This year, Reinbrecht will have a much different perspective on the last day of the boys swimming season.
Reinbrecht will compete in the consolation finals in both the 200- and 500-yard freestyles at Evanston Township High School.
"My times weren't exactly what I was shooting for," said Reinbrecht, "but you know what? I really don't care. I get to swim on Saturday, and that was the most important thing for me."
Reinbrecht had the 10th-best 200 free effort in Friday's prelims, finishing in 1:42.76. In the 500 free, he had the seventh-best time.
Of the two, Reinbrecht says he the most room for improvement in the 200. A fast first half of the race ended up leaving him with less closing speed in the second half than he's used to.
And in the 500, both he and coach Rick Andresen were puzzled by a sharp pain in Reinbrecht's side during the race. The discomfort was starting to fade as Reinbrecht watched the end of Friday's prelim session on deck.
"Who knows?" said Reinbrecht, referring to whatever was hurting him. "In the 500, I was feeling pretty good until that started to bother me. But it's all good -- I'll just give it my best tomorrow."
Knowing that Reinbrecht will score team point for Jacobs was more than enough to please Andresen.
"That was the goal this year, to get some team points on that scoreboard," Andresen said. "You've got to feel good about that."
Sophomore Francis Ogaban finished 38th in the 100 backstroke (54.18) in his first state meet performance.
Bartlett's Tyler Klatt will certainly be a swimmer to watch in future state meets, as his time of 52.49 in the 100 back left him 17th, just over a half-second from making the consolation finals. Bartlett junior Matt Lee also finished 17th in his race, the 100 breast, finishing in 59.62.
Cary-Grove senior Adam Eibel concluded his high school swimming career with one final swim in the 100 breaststroke.
He wasn't able to improve his time from the sectional, but his effort was a reminder that for many, simply qualifying for this meet is a major milestone.
"When I found out I'd qualified, at the sectional," he said, "it was such a major relief. I'd have like the chance to swim on Saturday, but for me, getting here was enough."
Hinsdale Central, Libertyville and Metea Valley delivered strong individual and team performances and will battle it out Saturday in the team finals, which begin at 1 p.m.
No state records were broken on Friday, but Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin senior Ryan Held impressed with the top qualifying efforts in both the 50 free (19.89) and 100 free (44.09).
Normal University junior Jake Miller is the top qualifier in 200 IM (1:49.98) and the No. 2 qualifier in the 500 free.
Libertyville's Alex Snarski is the top qualifier in the 100 backstroke (48.67) and the No. 4 qualifier in the 100 fly (49.44).