The pain from a serious back injury that forced Naperville Central sophomore diver Sydney Dusel to give up gymnastics is starting to subside.
Moments such as Saturday afternoon can be pretty therapeutic. Dusel became the first girls diver in school history to win a state title when she scored 455.50 in the 39th annual girls state swimming and diving meet at New Trier in Winnetka.
"It feels awesome," Dusel said. "This was definitely one of my goals."
Downers Grove North claimed its first girls swimming trophy when it finished second with 157 points with Gabby Sims winning two individual titles and swimming on the victorious 200-yard medley and 400 free relays. New Trier won its fourth straight title and increased its state record to 14 with 160.5 points.
Junior Kelly McNamara of the Addison Trail-Willowbrook co-op took second in the 100 butterfly, and junior Natalie McGovern of Neuqua Valley took third in the 100 backstroke.
Dusel came into the state meet with the fifth-best sectional score.
She took the lead into Saturday's last three dives and said she was confident about possibly winning after hitting her last four dives in Friday's preliminaries.
But some anxiety remained in her first state-meet appearance.
"I think the nerves actually helped me," Dusel said. "I think the crowd, also, and having my whole family here to support me helped me to be focused. I was happy I hit all my dives."
Especially her final one, a back 2½ twister, as she finished ahead of New Trier's Juliette Corboy.
"I was very nervous going into my last dive," Dusel said. "I knew I had to hit my last dive or I wouldn't win."
Finishing sixth a year ago helped calm McNamara's nerves in the 100 fly. The Willowbrook student swam 55.11 to finish behind only senior Mimi Schneider of Fenwick.
"It was good," McNamara said. "It was a little slower than prelims, but it was still fast.
"I just wanted to do better than sixth and do better than last year. I definitely did a lot of work on my turns because they were bad at state last year."
McGovern also made a big turnaround in a hurry after missing two turns and going 56.29 in Friday's 100 back prelims. She swam a personal-best 55.69 to finish behind Sims and Loyola's Maria Jardeleza.
"Third makes me so excited," said McGovern, who teamed with Mackenzie Hornstra, Wyli Erlechman and Grace Soltys on an 11th-place medley relay. "My big focus today was hitting my turns. I did that and it turned out pretty well in my favor."
Naperville North junior Devin Jacobs claimed her first state medal, finishing 11th in the 200 individual medley in 2:08.47.
"I don't know if I expected to get a medal, but I was hoping to have a better state meet this year," Jacobs said. "Typically I've done better at sectionals and not at state. My goal was to make top 12 in one of my events so I'm really proud of myself."
Sims also won the 100 free in 50.12 and wound up with seven first-place medals in high school. She teamed with Emily Albrecht, Lindsay Mathys and Maddy Sims to win the 400 free relay in 3:25.16 and combined with Gabriele Serniute, Maddy Sims and Albrecht to win the 200 medley relay in 1:42.22.
Naperville Central took 10th as a team as Sydney Weeks and Erin Stevens finished 6-7 in the 100 breaststroke and they teamed with Kamryn Gallowich and Bethany Ryan for sixth in the 200 medley relay. Junior Sophia Heiser was ninth in diving.
Madeline Hunt of Waubonsie Valley was eighth in the 50 free, 11th in the 100 back and on an 11th-place 200 free relay with Alexa Steffl, Emma Tinney and Avery Mathew. Metea Valley got 11th-place finishes from sophomores Madeline Sandberg in the 100 free and Amanda Burson in the 50 free. Hinsdale Central junior Margaret McCarthy was fifth in diving.