Are The Carmel Girls The Best High School Team Of All Time?

Carmel High School did pretty well at the 2015 Indiana High School Girls’ State Championship meet, but how good was this year’s team? This year was their 30th total state championship title and their 29th consecutive. A lot of people have been throwing out stats, making claims like “they would be top 15 finishers at the NCAA Championships”. It is too hard to make that comparison, seeing that the meet format and events are different, but I will make the claim that I believe they are the best high school team in history.

What amazes me when I look at their line-up from the state championships last weekend is that they didn’t field their best relay line-ups and still broke every national record. Claire Adams, their top backstroke was left off the 200 medley relay and Amy Bilquist, their sprint freestyler, was left off the 200 freestyle relay. The only swimmer that swam all three relays was Veronica Burchill. Burchill was a huge contributor to the team, splitting 23.31 in the butterfly leg of the medley, and leading off the freestyle relays in 22.29 and 48.48. Just imagine if they would have put Burchill, Adams, and Bilquist on all three relays; each of their relays could have been at least a second or two faster.

Carmel is the only High School girls team that has ever broken all three national HS relay records in one meet, and they’ve done it twice. Last year, they did it for the first time at the state championships, and this year they were able to do it again. The number of things that this team has done to separate themselves from the rest of the state and country is unbelievable.

Women’s swimming at the high school level was added in Indiana in 1974. Since then there have been 41 girls high school state championships. 73% of the Indiana State Championships have been won by Carmel.

Over the course of the two-day meet, 15 state records were broken. 13 of the 15 records were broken by Carmel Swimmers.

  1. 200 Medley Relay Prelims – 1:40.33 (National HS Record)
  2. 200 Freestyle Prelims – Emma Nordin – 1:46.78
  3. 200 Freestyle Prelims – Claire Adams – 1:45.09
  4. 100 Butterfly Prelims – Veronica Burchill – 52.59
  5. 100 Freestyle Prelims – Amy Bilquist – 48.67
  6. 500 Freestyle Prelims – Emma Nordin – 4:45.15
  7. 100 Backstroke Prelims – Claire Adams – 51.99
  8. 200 Medley Relay Finals – 1:39.25 (National HS Record)
  9. 50 Freestyle Finals – Amy Bilquist – 22.15
  10. 100 Butterfly Finals – Veronica Burchill – 52.26
  11. 100 Freestyle Prelims – Amy Bilquist – 48.36
  12. 200 Freestyle Relay Finals – 1:30.72 (National HS Record)
  13. 400 Freestyle Relay Finals – 3:15.38 (National HS Record)

There were a few other records that Carmel High School broke as well. At the final session on Saturday, the team won 9 of the 11 swimming events. That is the biggest number of individual wins from a single team in state history. That would be comparable to Cal Berkeley or Georgia winning 13 of the 16 swimming events at the NCAA Championships; it just doesn’t happen. The next record I would like to point out is that they are now tied with Honolulu Punahou’s Boys Swim Team for the most consecutive state championships of any sport, gender, or from any state. Their streak started in 1958 and ended in 1986. Below is a full list of the longest consecutive state championship streaks.

State Championship Record Streaks
Longest streaks of consecutive state championships, all sports, all states.

29: Carmel, Ind., girls swimming, 1986‐2015.*
29: Honolulu Punahou, Hawaii, boys swimming, 1958‐86.
27: Bolles, Jacksonville, Fla. boys swimming, 1988‐2014.*
27: Pickford, Mich., boys track and field, 1952‐78.
26: St. Xavier, Louisville, Ky., boys swimming, 1989‐2014.*
26: Woonsocket Mt. St. Charles Academy, R.I., boys hockey, 1978‐2003.
25: Paulsboro, NJ, wrestling, 1983‐2007.
24: Bishop Hendricken, Warwick, RI, boys swimming, 1990‐2013.
24: Tacoma Wilson, Wash., boys swimming, 1960‐83.
*Active streak.
(Source: National Federation of State High School Associations)

The next record I would like to point out is that Carmel won this years State Championship by the biggest margin in state history. They finished with 445 points and the second place team, Fishers High School, finished with 179 points.

Most Points Scored

  1. 2014-2015 – Carmel High School, 445 points
  2. 2008-2009 – Carmel High School, 427 points
  3. 1996-1997 – Carmel High School, 420.5 points
  4. 1997-1998 – Carmel High School, 419 points
  5. 1995-1996 – Carmel High School, 418 points
  6. 2013-2014 – Carmel High School, 399 points

The next record that was broken by Carmel High School was for the widest margin of victory at the state championship meet. The weirdest part about this stat is that at the four meets with the biggest margins, the second place team finished with almost the same amount of points each time.

Widest Margin of Victory

  1. 266 points – 2014-2015 (Carmel 445, Fishers 179)
  2. 242.5 points – 1996-1997 (Carmel 420.5, Richmond 178)
  3. 241 points – 1997-1998 (Carmel 419, Center Grove 178)
  4. 240 points – 1995-1996 (Carmel 418, Center Grove 178)
  5. 232.5 points – 2009-2010 (Carmel 419, Center Grove 186.5)
  6. 211 points – 1988-1989 (Carmel 335, Elkhart Central 124)

Looking back, I wish I would have been able to see them attack all three relays with their big guns, but I do respect that they wanted to swim the best line-up for the whole team. That line-up is what helped break the last two records I wrote about.

Looking across the board at all of Carmel’s events, their aren’t many high school swimmers in the country that could beat their top times. Sure there are a few swimmers that could beat them like Katie Ledekcy, Beata Nelson, or Abbey Weitzeil, but all three of those swimmers had to set national records to beat the times of the Carmel swimmers. As a team, Carmel is by far the best high school team in history. Their performance this weekend, in my opinion, proved that.

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samuel huntington

My question is how does this school keep winning year after year? Do Burchill, Adams, and Bilquist all really live in Carmel’s boundaries? If so, the odds of that happening are unbelievably small.

samuel – they weren’t all necessarily born there (Bilquist, for example, moved in last season from Phoenix). I won’t get into the politics of Indiana swimming, and I’m sure somebody will respond with a more nefarious proposal, but I’ll put it this way – if you’re moving to the Indianapolis area with kids, whether you’re a swimmer or not, Carmel is a desirable place to live and a desirable school to go to. It’s one of the fastest-growing cities in the country.

At 4,400 students, it also is the biggest high school in the state, which helps the “odds” out a little bit. The school has an impressive history of athletic success in many, many different sports.

samuel huntington

that is a huge school! and I did not know Bilquist just joined – that certainly helps (and you make it sound like it’s not an uncommon thing to see)

Meaghan

I was apart of this team and am now a swimmer for a D1 school, its not about the odds, the school itself has a culture of excellence, as a student we were expected to go above and beyond making every class harder than at other school, and sports were expected to go even further that’s how we wont 23+ state titles in the 2014-2015 school year. And the swim team is held to this standard all year long and that’s how the swimmers thrive, in an environment of competition. It isn’t odds, its well-rounded athletes held to the expectation of “courage and perseverance” and “learning excellence through swimming for life”.

A swimmer

They recruit

James

I don’t necessarily have an issue with parents moving to be in a district or region for athletically motivated reasons. At the end of the day a high value is placed on athletes at the next level, and I won’t begrudge someone wanting to land that attention. I might take issue if any tax dollars were spent to directly entice said athlete and their family to that school, etc.

Matthew

i swam for a competing high school and club team throughout grade and high school. their recent success makes me SO HAPPY. their level of commitment to being great athletes and sportswomen is great for Indiana Swimming. however, i will say they have an ASTOUNDING ability to recruit out-of-state super stars just when they’re seeing a lull down their pipeline. They’re weak in distance – – boom a sub 4:50 500 free gal from Pennsylvania shows up. stuff like that. remember, Addams was a late move-in as well as Bilquist. a majority of their stars – and i’m talking as far back as 15/20 years ago – were not produced from their age group farm team. as a competitor it… Read more »

Emily

Whatever information you are getting about previous Carmel swimmers is entirely wrong. I am a former Carmel swimmer, 7 years removed, and know for a fact that nearly every single swimmer from that team was either born in Carmel or was raised there from a young age. It has only been the last 5 years or so that Carmel has turned into a melting pot of swimming backgrounds and original whereabouts. The former swimmers of the club and high school team take pride from growing up within the program. Please respect us former members and do not provide false information about our swimming careers. In addition, there never has been recruiting going on within the Carmel swim team staff, club,… Read more »

James

Not to knock their accomplishment…no doubt absolutely amazing. But high school is a very tough level to judge team performance by state. Some states and regions (let’s take southern CA) have talent divided by a huge number of high schools, it’s hard to amass all the talent in one pool.

Don Watson

an amazing record of 30 State Championship wins – an impressive 2015 State Championship Team setting three new national relay records at state. WOW

About Tony Carroll

Tony Carroll

The writer formerly known as "Troy Gennaro", better known as Tony Carroll, has been working with SwimSwam since April of 2013. Tony grew up in northern Indiana and started swimming in 2003 when his dad forced him to join the local swim team. Reluctantly, he joined on the condition that …

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