The 2012 Illinois Girls High School State Championship meet wrote another page into the history of the long-running Evans Township High School’s ancient but electric natatorium. Olivia Smoliga made headlines all day long with her National Record-breaking performances that have now made well-told tours around the swimming community, but that was only just the very tip of the history that played out in this meet.
We’ll start with her though, as she broke the National High School Records in both the 50 freestyle and the 100 backstroke. In the 50, she swam a 21.99 to make her the first high school swimmer ever under 22 seconds in the race. That broke the old record that was held by Michigander Kara Lynn Joyce: a swimmer who went on to swim for Georgia, which is the same place that Smoliga will be headed next year.
The old State Record belonged to her with a 22.55 from the 2011 version of the meet, and the pool record was standing since the 1996 State Championship meet when Palatine’s Alison Wimer swam a 22.78.
Effingham Freshman Avery Braunecker impressed to stay focused through all of the excitement (and maybe even feed off of it) to place 2nd in 23.09. USC commit Evan Swenson was 3rd in 23.19.
In her other individual race, Smoliga also shaved just enough off of the old National High School Record in the 100 back: her best event and one where she was on the verge of making the Olympic Team this summer. She swam a 51.43 that took exactly a tenth off of the time swum by Minnesotan Rachel Bootsma in 2010.
Between prelims and finals, she also made mince-meat out of her old State Record in the race that was a 53.43 from her sophomore season – she didn’t swim this race at last year’s State Championship meet. That time was swum in this pool as well and also marked the pool record.
To read a more in-depth analysis of her National Records, see below:
Smoliga, as a part of two State Champion relays for Glenbrook South, also chalked-up two more State Records. First, in the 200 free relay, she led off in 22.17 and combined with Bailey Moyniham (23.85), Niki Wells (24.11), and sophomore standout Katie Wells (22.85) to finish in 1:32.98. That broke a four-year old record held by Rosemary High School in 1:33.88.
Impressive in 2nd place was Fenwick High School in 1:33.46, also under the old State Record.
Then, even with all of the emotional highs she’s hit this weekend, Smoliga and Glenbrook South got themselves up for one more big race in the 400 free relay. There, she combined with Katie Wells (51.76), Kelly Cordes (51.75), and Bailey Moynihan (53.31), finishing with a spectacular 47.68, for another record. The total time of 3:24.50 broke Fenwick’s State Record set last season a t 3:25.22.
Fenwick, despite returning nearly their entire relay, was not as good as they were last season to take 2nd in 3:25.25.
As alluded to, though, Smoliga was not the only history-maker on the day. This year, after a very public lawsuit, the IHSA has inaugurated separate State Championship races for Athletes with a Disability. This is especially significant given that Waubonsie Valley junior Alyssa Gialamas is a United States Paralympian.
Gialamas swept the first three State Championships in Class A with a 3:05.76 in the 200 free, a 43.64 in the 50 free, and a 1:30.03 in the 100 free. Nina Nissly won each of the Class B State Championships in those races, while Mary Callahan from Fenwick upset Gialamas for the 100 breast Class A title. Glenbrook North’s Phoebe Mejia won the 100 breast Class B Final in 2:21.46.
Other participants in this historic first include Samantha Peters, Samantha Smolka, and Jordan Leete. Now that a precedent has been set in Illinois, expect more-and-more states to run disability-class State Championships.
While Smoliga and her teammates from Glenbrook South were breaking record books, they only had the depth to finish 4th in the overall standings. That’s because the women from New Trier, even without winning a single event, put swimmer-after-swimmer into A-finals. Their rivals from Fenwick did the same, as the two ran away with the team scoring, but New Trier ultimately got it’s third-consecutive girls’ state championship.
In individual wins, freshman Hannah Boyd from University High took the girls’ 200 free in 1:49.05, just ahead of New Trier’s Stephanie Marchuk (1:49.76); Boyd over the summer broke a 34-year old Illinois State Age Group Record in the 200 free and is a phenomenal young talent.
Barrington freshman Kiersten Jacobsen was a 1:50.12 in that 200 free, but even better in the 500 that she won in 4:50.53.
In the girls’ 100 breaststroke, the aforementioned USC commit Swenson won in 1:02.42, just edging out New Trier’s Riley Hayward (1:02.49) and Fenwick’s Paulina Kaminski (1:02.53). That’s almost a two-second time drop for Swenson; coming into this meet, she was a very good 50 freestyler but needed a second event. With this time, she’s now going to be absolutely perfect for Dave Salo to develop into a Jessica Hardy/Kasey Carlson type.
Downers North’s Gabby Sims was also impressive in the girls’ 100 free with a 49.57 victory to break the pool record. That’s a second faster than her previous best time, and her personal history says that she’ll be even faster in March at NCSA’s.