Two state champs, team comes in second

Schneider, Kramer win titles and swimmers break four school records at IHSA finals

The Hinsdale Central girls swim and dive team earned two individual state championships and eight top-10 finishes en route to second place at the IHSA state finals Friday and Saturday at FMC in Westmont.

"This is the best state meet we've been a part of - and we've been a part of some really good ones," said varsity head coach Bob Barber, who has led the team to three runner-up finishes. "I didn't think last year's school records were beatable and we took down five more (see sidebar)."

Central earned 131 points, 31 more than it amassed in tying for runner-up honors last year. New Trier won the state championship with 149.5 points.

Kit Schneider defended her title in the 50-yard freestyle with

a time of 22.59.

"She dominated the 50 free," Barber said. "I think the previous year she won by 100ths (of a second) and this year she won by 4/10, 5/10. She was in a league of her own."

Schneider said the win felt good.

"I couldn't imagine a better ending for the whole team," she said. "It was an amazing meet for all of us. I felt we all swam out of our minds. My teammate Carrie Kramer also won her event (100-yard breaststroke). I think the combination made everyone so happy and we had so much fun."

Kramer improved dramatically in the 50 free since last year's state meet.

"I think that's been her goal since the minute she got fifth," Barber said. "Her internal motivation pushed her to be at just about every practice she could get to for the past year and, beyond that, her mental strength, she knew that was something she wanted to accomplish and knew she could do it."

Kramer was thrilled with the win.

"I mean, that's pretty much what you dream of as a high school swimmer all four years," she said. "It was awesome."

She acknowledged training was not easy.

"It takes a lot of hard work. Even in swimming sometimes, dropping .5 (seconds) at our age is hard," she said.

The 200-yard medley and freestyle relays both placed second and the 400-yard freestyle relay came in fifth. Schneider swam on all three of them.

"That was an athlete choice," Barber said of the assignment. "She enjoys and has some fun on the relays and knew they would carry us to a high-end performance."

Schneider said she particularly enjoyed the 200 medley relay, which she swam with Kramer, Burley Bokos and Phoebe Paarlberg.

"All those girls are some of my best friends," she said. "Those three in particular I had trained with the entire season pretty much, so it was fun to put it all together into one relay."

The relay came in second but broke the school record by a full second, Barber said, with half of its members novices to state-level competition.

"Two of the girls on there (Bokos and Kelechi Ojiako) had never swam at state before on a relay," he said. "(Ojiako) ended her season last year at JV conference."

Junior Bokos, who swam in the 200-yard medley relay, the 400-yard freestyle relay, the 500-yard freestyle and the 200-yard individual medley, had the toughest lineup of the weekend, her coach said.

"Both of her individual swims were not only taxing, but they are very emotional for the team," Barber said. "When you do well, we do better in that kind of situation. She definitely took off and excelled in everything she did last weekend."

Bokos said she wasn't expecting to swim the 400-yard freestyle relay Saturday but was happy to help her team.

"I did really good in my 5 and my coaches were like, 'OK, we're going to put you on the relay. Do you think you can anchor this thing?' We ended up with fifth, which was super good. It was a really fun relay to end the meet."

Senior Olivia Suliga led off both free relays and finished 21st in the 50-yard freestyle, scoring for the first time at state and providing "essential depth" to the team's speed in the relays, Barber said.

Martell, who came in ninth in diving, got the team off to a solid start, Barber said.

"Her four points in diving kept us in second place and just gave us energy walking in the door," he said. "Any time you can have a diver make the top 12 and lock in points before you even start the swim portion of the meet, you gain a lot of confidence."

Barber said he was happy for the seniors' strong finish to their high school careers. Bokos said she's already looking forward to next year.

"I'm excited to be a senior next year and kind of control the swimmers and push them as hard as the seniors did for me," she said.

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean