INDIANAPOLIS — The stage is now set at the IHSAA Girls Swimming State Championships.
The preliminary rounds had seven of the 11 events represented by Wawasee or Warsaw individuals or teams, but just Breanna Robinson of Wawasee will take the blocks at the IUPUI Natatorium Saturday afternoon at the state finals.
Robinson, entering Friday as the top seed in the state in both the 100 and 200 freestyles, will swim for a chance at two state titles after qualifying third in each event. Robinson’s 1:50.07 in the 200 was a lifetime best, which is now the new Wawasee school record, set by Robinson last season. But Robinson will have to set another record if she wants a state title, as two are seeded ahead of her.
Claire Adams of Carmel, a long and graceful freshman, opened a lot of eyes with a monstrous 1:48.19 in the third heat of the event. Summer Brown of Westfield is the two seed at 1:49.84 and Northridge’s Brittany Walters, who has had some memorable showdowns with Robinson the past two seasons, is fourth at 1:50.73.
Robinson’s 100 time of 50.83 is .09 off her school record but is in a logjam of five swimmers all under 51 seconds. Penn’s Addisynn Bursch is tops heading into Saturday at 50.71.
“Bre is swimming as fast as she ever has, and she has set herself up well for tomorrow,” stated Wawasee head coach Julie Robinson. “She knows these kids and they are strong swimmers that will finish their races. She knows that she has to go out there and hit every wall and do everything perfect if she wants to win.”
Wawasee’s two relays did not fare as well as hoped, with the 200 landing in 21st at 1:40.30 and the 400 23rd at 3:41.78.
Wawasee’s fifth active swim on Friday came in the backstroke, where freshman Betsy Rozow admittedly did not have the swim she hoped, taking 31st with a 1:03.05.
“I did a lot better last weekend, and not quite as well as I hoped, but being here is all that I could ask for,” Rozow said, taking moments to giggle as her Wawasee male counterparts razzed her from the stands. “This is a lot different than what we saw all year as far as times, and coach told me the girls here would be a lot faster so just focus on dropping my own time. I can’t worry about what everyone else’s times would be.”
Warsaw’s pair of swimmers making the state prelims also failed to qualify for Saturday, but had mixed bag feelings.
Junior Ashley Van Wormer made the breaststroke trip for the third time in as many years, and kept the ascent in the standings with a 24th-place time of 1:08.65 after finishing 31st and 29th in her first two years. Van Wormer, smiling for a good portion of the evening at Indianapolis, finally showed a little disappointment as the camps began to pack up following the meet.
“Today was OK,” began Van Wormer, noting a cold bug has slowed her down throughout the week’s training. “I was pretty happy with how I did. But I needed to work on my turns a lot. I just go out and swim, I view this as an extra chance.”
Classmate Cynthia Juarez, on the other hand, was just happy to be a part of it. The 5:34.48 landed Juarez in 31st place overall, but the experience of her first state finals as worth the price of admission.
“This is actually really fun because you get to compete with a lot of girls that are swimming at your level, or in a lot of cases, much faster than me,” Juarez said with a grin. “I think this was a good experience today. I can’t ask for more, even though I didn’t do as good as I would have liked.”
Warsaw head coach Nate Long wasn’t overly disappointed with the outcome, keeping a realistic view on what his two swimmers were up against.
“It’s Cynthia’s first time down here, we just wanted her to come down here and swim the best she could,” Long said. “I know she was a little disappointed with her time, but we’re not at all as a coaching staff. It is what it is. From personal experience having swam down here before, I know its nerve racking being down here. It’s a really tough environment the first time around.
“Ashley, we were really hoping she would have gotten top 16, but it didn’t work out. Hopefully we can learn a little bit from this and come back next year and take another crack at it.”
Overall, just two other Northern Lakes Conference entrants will swim on Saturday, with Walters also qualifying for the finals of the 500 with her 4:59.53, slipping in with the eighth position. The Northridge 200 free relay, with Walters anchoring, will swim in the consolation final after posting a 1:39.58 to place 15th overall.
Diving will host its prelims Saturday morning at 9 a.m. with its finals being the fifth event of the championship rounds, which begin at 1 p.m.