In swimming circles, there is a phenomenon called the “Omaha Effect” that is being talked about more-and-more. Since the state of Nebraska got the Olympic Trials in 2008 and 2012 (and will again in 2016), it has become one of the hottest spots in the country for young talent. Nebraska has always produced good talent, but never with the sort of depth that they’ve had in the last few years.That talent is sort of rolling into and through the high school ranks now, and will soon leave Nebraska with an overflowing level of talent.
And while it’s hard to draw a solid line from the trials’ presence in the state to this new influx of fast swimmers, the connection makes sense.
It’s being seen all over the state – in Omaha and its suburbs of Millard and Eklhorn; and across the state in Lincoln, the talent is showing up, and 2014 seems to be the year where things are going from a small trickle to a tidal wave.
At the 2014 Nebraska High School State Championship meet that began Friday (finals will be Saturday), a freshman named Dannie Dilsaver from Lincoln Southwest swam a 2:01.91 in the 200 IM. That not only took more than five seconds off of her seed time, it broke Karen Criss’ State Record by a second-and-a-half.
In the very next event, her teammate Olivia Calegan, also a freshman, was a 23.53 for the top seed in the 50 free ahead of senior Laura Miksch.
Dilsaver came back later in the 100 free with another top seed in 52.20, with the second-seed being Millard West’s Lindsey Stalheim – just a sophomore.
Calegan took another top seed in teh 100 breast in 1:03.52, just seven-tenths of a second shy of that state record as well.
In fact, in 9 individual swimming events, 7 top seeds are freshmen or sophomores, with 1 junior and 1 senior.
In the men’s meet, the story of the day was Creighton Prep’s Jacob Molacek, who broke two State Records and one National Record. First came a 1:45.50 in the 200 IM, which took down Will Raynor’s 2012 record of 1:50.41 by almost five seconds (Raynor was on the NCAA Championship-winning team at Michigan last year as a freshman).
Then he swam a 52.92 in the 100 breaststroke, which broke the National High School Record in the race, and which would have scored at NCAA’s last year. (Read more about that record here).
In other good swims on the boys’ side, Eklhorn’s Michael Mollak took the top seed in the boys’ 200 free ahead of Creighton Prep’s Ryan Tate in 1:41.40. Tate would later take the top seed in the 100 fly in 50.19 ahead of Garrett Cadotte in 50.41.
While the men’s meet wasn’t dominated quite as much by youth, there is one freshman top seed – Grand Island’s Matthew Novinski swam a 52.13 in the 100 back to sit ahead of Mollak’s 52.51 and Caleb Kruse’s 52.79.