Winter Juniors Qualifier Kennedy Rainwater Hands Commitment To Illinois (2024)

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Kennedy Rainwater has announced her verbal commitment to swim and study at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, beginning in the fall of 2024. Rainwater is from Brookfield, Wisconsin, where she attends Brookfield Central High School. 

Rainwater is a member of Elmbrook Swim Club, where she primarily focuses on distance freestyle events. She recently earned a Winter Juniors qualifying time in the 1000 freestyle, and also owns Futures cuts in the 500, 1650, and 100 fly.

Rainwater capped off her short course season this year at the NCSA Spring Championships. She recorded her best finish in the 1000 freestyle, where she turned in a best time of 10:07.76 for 19th. She also dropped over 10 seconds in the 1650 (17:07.31), three seconds in the 500 (4:56.52), and just under a second in the 200 fly (2:08.38). 

In the fall, Rainwater represented her high school at the Wisconsin High School State Championship (Division I). She contributed to her team points with two top-10 finishes, taking 4th in the 500 free (5:01.28) and 9th in the 200 free (1:54.39). Additionally, she raced on her team’s 400 freestyle relay (53.64 split) and 200 freestyle relay (24.51 split).

Top SCY Times:

  • 200 free – 1:53.07
  • 500 free – 4:56.52
  • 1000 free – 10:07.76
  • 1650 free – 17:07.31

Under first-year head coach Jeana Kempe, the Illini finished 11th at the 2023 Big Ten Championships. Rainwater’s current best time in the 1650 is already inside Big Ten-scoring range and would have earned 23rd at this year’s meet.

Leading the Illinois distance squad this year was rising sophomore Liv Dorshorst, who placed 18th at Big Tens with a time of 16:47.37. Dorshorst later lowered her time further to 16:33.79 at the CSCAA National Championship, marking a new program record. Dorshorst also led the team in the 500 (4:51.01) and 1000 (9:56.73), with the 1000 also marking a new program record.

Joining Rainwater in Illinois’ class of 2028 is Maya Arroyo, Sophia Yousuf, Kayla Duran, Sophia Szymanski, Gianna Cappello, Chloe Diner, Isabella Wilhelm, and Stephanie Kirova

If you have a commitment to report, please send an email with a photo (landscape, or horizontal, looks best) and a quote to [email protected].

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Comfy Pants
9 months ago

Congrats Kennedy!

9 months ago

I wonder why the Illini swim team usually finishes near the bottom of the Big 10. Illinois is such a talent rich state loaded with many elite level swimmers. Anyone know why?

john green
Reply to  Billy
9 months ago

no men’s team

Reply to  Billy
9 months ago

Pool sucks

Reply to  B1Guy!
9 months ago

Agreed. There are so many single-gender programs lately, so I think it’s more than that. Pool is really really awful. Barely any spectator seating and it’s less than 4’ deep. Weird configurations. It’s really mean for recreational use. UIUC has an outstanding academic reputation though. Lots of potential if they ever get a decent pool.

Also, I wonder if the program is fully funded with scholarships.

Reply to  tswum
9 months ago

They are fully funded, but Sue was very comfortable with where they were at and definitely not interested in doing all it takes to improve when you’re operating with disadvantages. If your HC is content getting last in the conference every year then why would the swimmers feel any differently? New staff has only been there a year, so it’s too early to say if they can change the direction, but caring more is a great start.

Reply to  tswum
9 months ago

If you look in any major conference, the single gender programs are usually near the bottom:
Big 10- Nebraska, Rutgers, Illinois, Iowa
SEC- Arkansas, Vanderbilt
PAC-12- Washington State, (UCLA is middling)
Big 12- Iowa State, Kansas
Being a single gender program is a major disadvantage in a major conference.

Reply to  DMSWIM
9 months ago

That in and of itself is not a disadvantage. It say more about the fact that most of these schools cut men’s teams at some point because they did not value swimming and this the support for the women’s programs that remain are often substandard.

Comfy Pants
Reply to  oxyswim
9 months ago

Agree that cutting the men’s side says something about how well swimming is valued (or not), but also 100% there are recruits who prefer schools with both men’s and women’s programs (or combined).

Reply to  oxyswim
9 months ago

This take is very accurate. If you just look at some more-successful women’s only teams in mid-major conferences, they were often added as a sport later (as opposed to being leftover after their corresponding men’s team was cut). Think Akron, Liberty, FGCU, San Diego St., etc. All have strong support from their athletic departments despite only being a single-gendered team. They also all have great facilities too, so that point may be valid as well.

Reply to  oxyswim
9 months ago

I swam for Illinois women’s team around the time that they cut the men’s program. (Early to mid 90s). They cut the men’s program because the football program, which never won anything then or anything since, took up so many athletics spots that it created an imbalance with the women’s programs. It wasn’t the money, as far as I can remember.
Also, our pool was not 4 feet deep. And it’s been upgraded since I was there. Yes, they did build a second pool in the more recent past.
As far as coming in last… well, both them men’s and women’s teams came in toward the bottom of the big 10. 🙁

Former Big10
Reply to  Billy
9 months ago

Little support from AD over the years

Reply to  Billy
9 months ago

Northwestern’s better