Relays, Bokos help team place fifth

Central girls swim, dive team earns five top-five finishes at IHSA championships

The Hinsdale Central girls swim and dive team's fifth-place finish at the IHSA state finals last weekend at FNC Natatorium in Westmont doesn't truly reflect all the girls accomplished.

"It was perfect," varsity head coach Bob Barber said. "I think the girls swam really well."

Senior Burley Bokos broke two school records at the meet. Her time of 2:03.12 in the preliminaries for the 200-yard individual medley beat the record held by the late Kendall Pickering. Bokos also broke the 1988 record held by Nicole Egan for the 500-yard freestyle, again in the preliminaries, with a time of 4:54.19.

"I really wanted to get the 500 record just because it was the oldest record on the woman's side," Bokos said. "After I saw that I got that after prelims by a full second, I was super happy."

Only one record prior to 2000 remains on the board, Barber said.

"It's crazy," he said.

Bokos ended up with second place in the 500-yard freestyle and fourth in the 200-yard IM in the finals.

"I think this is difficult, for girls in particular, to be able to get better each year, and Burley finished her four year career on top, lifetime bests, grabbing school records, placing in the top four in both her events, helping the relays get through," Barber said. "She played a major role in our team's performance and was a great leader all year long."

The school's three relays all placed in the top five at state. Senior Elizabeth Lahmann, junior Kamile Zinis and freshmen Karina Miller and Lilia Barber took third in both the 200-yard medley relay and in the 400-yard freestyle relay. Lahmann, Zinis, Lilia Barber and junior Vija Barber took fifth in the 200-yard freestyle relay.

Lahmann also placed eighth in the 200-yard freestyle.

"She did a great job," Barber said of Lahmann. "We set up a couple of moves to help protect different athletes throughout the weekend. Elizabeth was the benefit of only swimming the 200 free on Friday, and then she was our faster choice on Saturday for the medley before the 200 free. It may have cost her timewise, but she earned the spot. She helped our relay get third in the medleys.

"Her senior year was special as well," Barber said.

Lahmann, who attended state last year but did not compete, said she was happy to drop time and perform well.

"Honestly, a highlight of the meet for me was when my team just came together and decided, 'We are going to have fun with this,' " she said. "We all know if you take it too seriously, you get in your head and you perform not that great."

Lahmann agreed with Barber that swimming her individual event right after the relays was tough.

"I knew I would have to make that sacrifice for the team, but I don't regret it at all. In the end I truly believe that was the best decision for my coach to make," she said.

The state meet was the first for Miller, Lilia Barber and Zinis, a transfer student.

"I have three girls that were new to the team swim three or four events each at the state finals, playing major roles for our team's success," Barber said. "They're all just learning the process, because none of them had been there before."

Barber said he enjoyed watching both his daughters compete.

"Regardless of the last name, Vija Barber probably had the swim of the meet for us in prelims, dropping an additional five seconds in her 500 (yard freestyle) to qualify for finals, which none of us anticipated," he said.

While the other teams in first through fourth place at state (led by Rosary with 243 points) have young teams as well, Barber expects Central to build on this finish next year.

"The experience that all those first-time state competitors got is going to carry us to another level next year," he said.

Grace Klobach placed 20th in the diving semifinals and Meghan Martell placed 24th in the preliminary round.

Barber offered his congratulations to Lyons Township High School, which beat Central by eight points at sectionals and by 12 at state to come in fourth.

"I thought they had the best meet out of all the teams," he said. "It was fun chasing them."

Lahmann, who will swim next year for the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, said while she is excited for the next chapter, she loved her time at Central.

"I wish I could relive my four years," she said. "I think this time of year has always been my favorite and this team, I love it. I could talk about how great our team is for hours. It truly is a family."

Bokos, who hopes to make a decision in the next week or so about where she will swim in college, agreed the team was a special one.

"I was super nervous about swimming this year on Hinsdale Central just because my best friends were all seniors last year," she said. "I feel like I've become so much closer with so many people that I was not expecting to be. Those are the friendships that I'll never forget and the memories I'll never forget.

"It was a fun season," she said.

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean