Girls swimming: Graves, Barrington expect to go the distance again

  • Barrington's Maggie Graves swims in the 500-yard freestyle during the girls state swimming finals at Evanston High School last season. Graves returns to lead the Fillies this fall.

      Barrington's Maggie Graves swims in the 500-yard freestyle during the girls state swimming finals at Evanston High School last season. Graves returns to lead the Fillies this fall. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Palatine's Jane Smith is all smiles after her first-place victory in the 200-yard freestyle at the 2018 IHSA sectional.

      Palatine's Jane Smith is all smiles after her first-place victory in the 200-yard freestyle at the 2018 IHSA sectional. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

By Mike Miazga
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 8/21/2019 8:44 PM

Barrington girls swimmer Maggie Graves excels in the 500 freestyle.

"The 500 is the shortest distance I swim," the junior deadpanned.


She wasn't kidding.

Graves, who competes with the Barrington Swim Club in the offseason, recently swam a 7.5-kilometer race at the National Open Water Select Camp in Wisconsin.

"That's about five miles," she said.

Graves said she also swam a 1.25-kilometer race this summer and attempted to do a 5K one before Mother Nature stepped in.

"I usually swim the mile in club," she said. "That's my strongest club event. I got to do some open water stuff this summer, which is a lot more than a mile. My last meet in club (junior nationals in California) the times weren't what I wanted them to be, but I thought my race strategy and mentality was a lot better than it was at the end-of-the-season meet last year."

So, with high-school season approaching, the 500 must seem like a piece of cake to Graves, who took third in the event last year as a sophomore at state for Barrington with a time of 4:52.60.

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"I learned after that open water race that compared to 7.5K the mile is nothing and the 500 is going to seem like swimming a 50," she said.

Graves said improvements in her 500 have come at the beginning of races. "Last year I definitely worked on getting out fast," she said. "This year I'm going to work on my kicks and turns. I'm looking forward to swimming shorter distances and being able to work on the little things."

Graves said goals for this season include getting her 500 under 4:50 -- she went 4:52 last year and 4:51 at a club meet in February.

She'd also like to get in the top 3 at state again this year and also has her eye on the Barrington pool record in the event. The Fillies are hosting a sectional this fall.

"That's most likely my best opportunity for that," said Graves, who noted the record stands at 4:51.51.

Graves also is looking forward to being with her Barrington teammates this fall. "I love our team," she said. "I love the culture and I love the fact that every year is a new experience. We have a lot of very fast swimmers and some new freshmen. Everything about this team is great. Our coach is amazing, the mentality at practice is amazing, and we always strive to be our best. It's a great program to be part of."


Jane Smith, Graves' Barrington Swim Club teammate, also is back in the 500 for Palatine. The senior and University of Missouri commit, took seventh in the state at 4:57.36.

"Maggie is one of my best friends," said Smith. "We race against each other, actually. It's super-fun. She's great to hang out with and she's someone who really pushes me. It's very motivating."

What about those long swims Graves goes for? "That camp she went to?" Smith said. "Not my thing (laughs)."

Smith knows what she has to work on in the 500 this season. "I have good endurance and have a great passion with that race. I know I'm more comfortable with it," she said. "I'm learning what I have to do in the back half of the race, and that part has gotten stronger for me."

Smith, who started in the 500 at age 10 and hit the state cut the first or second time she swam the race at her age level, also competes in the 200, an event she qualified for state for as well last year.

"With the 200, I have to get after it more and swim into my turns," she said. "I always want to improve that race. That's my goal. It's a hard race because it's a longer sprint and it's hard to keep the pace going for 200."

Smith has her eyes on hitting 4:50 in the 500 and 1:50 in the 200. "I want to have a really fun senior year," she said. "I want to get good times and have a lot of fun."

As for Missouri, Smith is over the moon about her next swimming destination. "It's very cool and very humbling," she said. "It shows that a lot of hard work can have a great outcome. It's super-cool to be able to go there and do something that I love to do."

What else is in store in the Mid-Suburban League? Loop champion Barrington, sixth in the state a year ago, returns state qualifiers in Graves, Lilian Reader, Emily Bucaro, Julie Vega and Alyssa Schwengel. "In order for us to be successful we have to be tough, race and train effectively," Fillies coach Alex Mikolajewski said.

Hersey, under the direction of coach Dick Mortensen, is looking for its fifth MSL East title in the row and ninth in the last 11 seasons. The Huskies were the MSL runner-up a year ago and are led by returning state qualifiers in Mollie Lumsden (200, back), and divers Amelie Smithson and Ally Blumenfeld. Lumsden is the defending 200 and back MSL champion. Keep an eye on freshman Maggie Papanicholas in the breaststroke. Junior Ashley Hintz transferred in from Rolling Meadows. Of note, Hersey was ranked seventh last year in the NISCA national dual meet team rankings in the girls public school category (enrollment 1,401-1,900).

Schaumburg welcomes back MSL swimmer of the year Nina Mollin, who as a freshman took sixth in the state in the IM and also qualified in the breaststroke. Senior Hana Mollin qualified for state in the IM and back. The Saxons also return their school-record-breaking 200 medley and 400 relay teams (Mollins, Madi Dohrn and Lynda Steen).

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