Girls swimming: Stevenson successfully defends NSC championship
Most will agree that, in theory, swimming is an individual sport.
So no real team bonding then, right?
Not the case.
All swimming and diving teams practice some kind of out-of-the-pool togetherness to help build relationships and camaraderie.
And it was team dynamic that perhaps helped fuel a repeat championship for Stevenson's girls in the North Suburban Conference meet hosted by Lake Forest on Saturday.
The Patriots finished with 401.5 points to easily outdistance runner-up Libertyville (246) and third-place Warren (219.5).
"Instead of dryland, we just hung out and played games on Friday and got to know all the girls on all levels even better," senior Ashley Carollo said. "We have 'Big Sisters' as well for all of the younger swimmers."
Carollo recently committed to swim for Tulane.
"It feels great to have college all set up," she said. "A big weight off my shoulders. Now I can just go out and have some fun and do the best for my teammates."
The operative word being teammates.
"Our practices have gotten so loud," Carollo said. "Everyone has been cheering for everyone, striving for the same goal."
Carollo certainly did her part Saturday.
She won the 50-yard freestyle with a state cut time of 24.27 and followed up with a title in the 100 freestyle (53.19).
"I missed being around these girls most of October while on college visits," Carollo said. "But it's exciting to be on this team. I just want to do well for them."
Carollo also swam the second leg of the winning 400 free relay (3:37.11), which also featured Claudia Rzeznik, Abigail Li and Jennifer Xiong. Later in the meet, Carollo led off the winning 200 free relay. She, Maddy O'Donnell, Jessica Nyborg and Lucy Stevens touched in 138.90.
Xiong also won the 500 freestyle (5:19.44), while Elizabeth Cao captured the 200 IM (2:12.08) and led off the winning 200 medley relay (1:48.84). Cao joined forces with Nyborg, Natalie Wess and O'Donnell on the medley relay.
Stevenson won nine out of 12 events.
"It's nice to win conference against some really good teams," said coach Kevin Zakrzewski, whose Patriots and Lake Forest will host sectional meets next Saturday. "We were able to see where we were at today and what combinations we can use in preparation for the state meet. We have two weeks (before state), so they know what they have to do as far as training."
Stevenson's Shreeya Sinha won the 1-meter diving, amassing 356.95 points. Nyborg touched first in the 100 breaststroke (1:07.03).
Libertyville junior Emma Gleason earned a couple of titles, winning the 200 freestyle (1:56.7) and 100 butterfly (56.60).
"I'm not where I want to be yet," Gleason said. "But tapering will be next week and hopefully I'll be prepared as best I can be. That's all I can ask for. And our team is doing great. We're all just trying to stay consistent."
Mundelein sophomore Adry Kasemets took home a second-place medal in the 200 IM (2:14.67) and followed with a third-place effort in the 100 breaststroke (1:09.35).
"I started tapering last week and am pretty satisfied with today," said Kasemets, who hopes to drop under 1:07 in the 100 breaststroke. "I've also been working on taking off faster. Obviously the main goal is to get to state."
Lake Zurich's Sophia Goushchina won the 100 backstroke with a state cut time of 58.30.
Warren coach Chris Bertana was especially pleased with his Blue Devils' performance.
"We have some tapered and some partially, but I'm real happy with what we've been doing today," he said. "We worked them pretty hard in practice last week, and the result was a lot of personal-best times on both levels today."
Warren senior Alyssa Church is looking to go out with a bang after taking second in the 200 freestyle (1:58.20) and third in the 100 freestyle (54.09). She also swam anchor on the second-place 200 free relay. She, Carissa Barker, Hailey Benoit and Grace Bevers swam 1:41.03.
Bevers and Benoit joined Annji Stingle and Maia Russell on the second-place 400 freestyle relay (3:48.47).