INDIANAPOLIS – Every child dreams big. Not every one can actually realize those dreams.
Walking through the streets of Indianapolis Saturday night, Delaney Wihebrink wasn’t an hour removed from a childhood dream. Or, possibly, she was still living it.
Wihebrink was still within touch of her third-place medal she earned at the IHSAA Girls Swimming State Finals, where she even outdid herself with a performance that will go down in Tiger swim history.
“I couldn’t feel my arms, I just wanted to get the best I could,” offered Wihebrink of the final push of the 100 breaststroke finals, where she was in the apex of leaders in the championship swim Saturday afternoon. “I could see myself third, but that last turn (St. Joe’s Aislynn Walsh) got out and made a dead shot there to the finish. She had a little more endurance than I did.”
That set up saw Walsh beat Wihebrink to the wall at 1:02.56 to 1:03.06. That doesn’t even factor in both were resigned to a feeble chase of Yorktown’s Emily Weiss, who blew away the field for a fourth straight year at 58.91, the fourth-fastest time the country has ever seen. Weiss holds the honor of the fastest time ever in the breaststroke, set last year at 58.40.
What matters to Wihebrink and the Warsaw program, however, is the 1:03.06. It was only the second time in program history someone has swam a 1:03, both coming from Wihebrink this past weekend. Her 1:03.45 in the prelims was the old school record, which waterfalled four more records Wihebrink set in the event throughout the postseason, starting with the Northern Lakes Conference Championships in January. It was there that Wihebrink got over her first hill, winning her one and only NLC title at 1:05.53 in beating Northridge’s Jenna Netherutt and Haley Dygert in an exciting championship race. All three girls would go on to place top eight at the state finals.
Wihebrink lowered her school record over a half dozen times this season, which is a source of pride she can take with her in her next step to Grand Valley State University’s swim team next season. The ability to get the signing out of the way before swim season, and deciding not to return as Warsaw’s No. 1 golfer in the fall to focus on her swimming in the preseason, were choices Wihebrink found to be very beneficial.
“My head was so much cleaner this season,” Wihebrink said. “This year really was a lot of fun. Even times like Christmas Break, when it’s hard training and you don’t even want to get in the car and drive to practice, let alone swim, it was still 95 percent fun and just five percent stress. To be able to come down to the state finals after all that, to have a big group here, a lot of family and friends down here, my teammates, it was just a lot of fun.”
Wihebrink was a four-year state swimmer, but her senior season was the only time she made a Saturday swim. In each of her four years, Wihebrink was part of three event qualifiers. All the way up to Friday’s breaststroke prelims, Wihebrink hadn’t qualified for a consolation or championship swim, placing no higher than 24th in the medley relay as a freshman and breaststroke last year as a junior. Even this year, Warsaw’s two relays – the medley and 200 free – were 26th and 29th. Coming into state breaststroke as a seven-seed then qualifying fourth after Friday, it was new territory for Wihebrink.
Saturday was all gravy, it was just a matter of doing what she had spent most of her competitive swim life doing.
“When I came down here and was seeded seventh, I wasn’t expecting to swim a 1:03 at all,” Wihebrink said. “I just told myself, this is the last time I am swimming in high school, just give it my all. I cried at prelims when I went 1:03. It was crazy. This would be the last time I swim for Warsaw, even if I get an eighth place medal. Anything would be awesome. I never had done a walk-out, no podiums. They were playing the songs on the P.A. Just crazy.”
Wihebrink becomes only the second Warsaw swimmer to finish in the top three at the state finals. Nate Taylor won the breaststroke title in 2005 with at time of 56.80. Wihebrink noted it was crazy to think she was in that company, but was more interested in keeping company with her 26th and 29th place cohorts.
“Being the last time I was going to swim with Olivia (Herman) and my teammates, that was just as special to me,” Wihebrink said, maintaining her team-first policy she has kept all season. “This is not just about me, it’s about all of them. They’re all third with me, because I wouldn’t have been pushed without them. Macy Marcuccilli was down here taking pictures, Olivia swimming with me all year. Taylor made it here for the IM. We were all lifted up together. This is not just about Delaney and what Delaney did, but we all had something to do with this. I couldn’t have done any of this without them.”