Girls swimming: Hersey off to a flying start to season

  • Hersey's Ella Salm wins first place in the 50-yard freestyle against Fremd last week.

      Hersey's Ella Salm wins first place in the 50-yard freestyle against Fremd last week. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

By Mike Miazga
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 9/11/2019 8:58 PM

The Hersey girls swimming team has wasted no time making an impact this fall.

The Huskies started the season with three wins against Fremd, Glenbrook North and Warren; the first two contests Hersey won a combined 20 of 24 events and then swept all events in a 106-point win over Warren.


In the process freshman Maggie Papanicholas earned an athlete of the week honor from one media outlet and NBC Sports Chicago is slated to come to the school to do a story on her for its High School Lites show.

How impressive was Papanicholas out of the gates? She set the Hersey school record and pool record in all three meets in the breaststroke (1:03.12). Coach Dick Mortensen points out that time qualifies her for all-American considerations. Papanicholas won the breaststroke this summer at the Illinois long-course age-group championships.

"She has made an immediate varsity impact," said Mortensen. "Outside the pool she is quiet and shy. Inside the pool this girl is a torpedo."

In another meet, Hersey set the Prospect pool record in the 200 medley relay with Molly Lumsden, Papanicholas, Brooke Martin and Natalia Plewa. All Hersey relays were unbeaten as of earlier this week. The medley relay is 0.73 seconds away from the school record.

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"How deep we are is really what has surprised me," Mortensen said. "I knew we had good depth, but our relays have been outstanding. I think we expect to win, and in the past we may have been a little tentative with some of the more established teams. That's not the case this year."

Mortensen also has been pleased with Lumsden's contributions to the team. "She is a fierce competitor, hates to lose and works her tail off in practice to get better," he said. "She already is under last year's dual-meet times in the 200 and backstroke."

Mortensen added diver Allyson Blumenfeld has not lost yet and is ahead of last year's pace by about 30 points. It's also the first time Hersey has defeated Fremd and Glenbrook North in a dual meet.

"The team is hungry to do well going forward," said Mortensen. "They are not satisfied by winning dual meets. They want more. The practice atmosphere is fierce and we have so many kids with potential to make the championship lineup."

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