Girls swimming: Schaumburg's Mollin keeping her Olympic dreams alive
Schaumburg junior Nina Mollin hasn't let COVID-19 interfere with her goal of representing Canada in the Olympics.
Mollin has dual citizenship with the United States and Canada, and while COVID-19 led to the March postponement of the Canadian Olympic trials until April 2021, she's using the high school season as a springboard for that objective.
She's not wasting any time or energy. In a crisp 86-42 victory over Hoffman Estates earlier this week, she won three events: the 50-yard freestyle (24.22 seconds, which set a school record), 100 freestyle (52.70) and the 100 breaststroke (1:06.35).
"It was really hard at the time," Mollin said of the Olympic trials postponement. "I've got more time to prepare and train harder. It gives me more time to mentally and physically prepare."
Mollin is one-third of a trio of juniors that are making a big impact for the Saxons this season. The others are Madi Dohrn and Danielle Alley, each of whom had strong performances against Hoffman Estates. Dohrn won the 100 backstroke (57.25) and took second in both the 50 freestyle (24.86) and 100 freestyle (54.31).
Not to be outdone, Alley won the 200 individual medley (2:22.05) and 500 freestyle (5:25.64) and took second in the 100 backstroke (1:08.37).
"We're trying to embrace the challenge and go at it headstrong and not really shying away from it," Alley said of the protracted season.
The one thing they have had to contend with is fast meets. For example, an 89-54 loss to Barrington on Aug. 29 took just 42 minutes.
"Now we have two 10-minute breaks, but you can definitely feel it if you have two or three events in a row," Dohrn said. "It's a quick pace and we're able to get home faster than last year, but it's pretty tiring."
Reloading at Metea:
Some schools rebuild, while others reload. Place Metea Valley in that second category.
The team graduated most of its point scorers from last season, while senior McKenna Stone transferred to Neuqua Valley, but that's no problem. The Mustangs have 15 freshmen out program-wide, nine of whom are on varsity. That includes Emily Schalk (100 butterfly), Kaelia Hughes (200 individual medley and 100 breaststroke) Allie Leslie (sprint freestyle events) and Evelyn Chua (200 individual medley).
Now add a new coach in Missy Hines, and the future foundation seems to be set.
"We only have five seniors, so we're looking forward to our big freshman class and the journey over the next four years," said Hines, who replaced Mark Jager.
Due to COVID-19, Hughes had a three-month break from her club team, the Chicago Wolfpack, and actually considered skipping the high school season. But Wolfpack practices at the University of Illinois-Chicago, which hasn't opened. That left Metea Valley as her only option.
She's glad she's a Mustang.
"I'm really excited," Hughes said. "The team environment when I came in is fantastic. I think it's a really good opportunity to swim, because a lot of people aren't."
Hines also has three varsity seniors that are stepping into a major leadership role for the freshmen and sophomores: Caroline Vosmick (100 butterfly), Sarah Klewicki (100 breaststroke) and Maddie DeGraff (sprint freestyle).
"We have a lot of strong freshmen and a lot of strong seniors, and I think that's going to benefit us," DeGraff said. "We've been practicing so hard, everybody has a great mindset for this season, that I think we can really go far."
Zoom Benefits Elgin-Larkin:
A lot of teams used Zoom in the offseason to keep in touch and do virtual workouts. Elgin-Larkin co-op coach Carl Metzke is keeping that spirit alive at 3 p.m. every Wednesday this season, when his team meets via Zoom for dryland activities.
For example, earlier this week, the team did a 6-minute warmup with pushups, squats and jumping jacks, followed by a 20-minute workout with reverse lunges, plank to pushups and flutterkicks, with 40 seconds of one activity followed by 20 seconds of rest. They end the session with stretching.
It's paying off. Elgin-Larkin nearly defeated South Elgin Sept. 8, losing 63-62 in a livestreamed event.
"I definitely think that it works," sophomore Tori Hinson said of the Zoom practices, which are independent of 6-7 a.m. daily in-pool practices. "In the water, there's a lot of you can do, but only so much muscle building. I think it gives us more muscle and helps our stamina."
Plus, there's the team bonding aspect, junior Charlisa Mao added.
"I think it just forms a better connection because it's all something we're working toward," she said.