WINNETKA – The pool deck at the IHSA girls swimming and diving championships can be a humbling and terrifying place for competing swimmers. With stands on three sides of the pool and seemingly right on top of the swimmers, swimmers can barely hear themselves think during the meet.
Interestingly, as Saturday’s finals wore on, the natatorium at New Trier thinned out, with only pockets of fans and teams cheering for their favorite schools.
As the pool deck thinned, St. Charles East and Rosary slowly moved their way up the standings, both eventually landing among the top 10. After an 11th place finish in the 400-yard freestyle relay, the Saints earned themselves an eighth-place finish with 67 points, East’s highest finish at the state meet in nearly a decade.
“It was an awesome feeling; this is the best we’ve finished in 10 years,” East coach Joe Cabel said. “I’m very happy, it was a tremendous team effort and everyone had an awesome attitude. It was a lot of fun.”
Along with the strong finish in the 400 freestyle relay, East received huge results late in the meet from Shea Hoyt and Izzie Bindseil to help the Saints earn the top-10 spot.
Bindseil swam the 500-yard freestyle and 200-yard freestyle relays back-to-back, only having a couple of minutes to rest in between races. After earning a sixth-place finish in the 500 with a 4:58.14, Bindseil helped Hoyt, Kate Nagler and Stephanie Garvin take 12th in the 200-free relay.
“She’s an Ironwoman, she did awesome today for us,” Cabel said. “She’s a busy woman at the end of the meet.”
Bindseil will join Hoyt next year at Iowa – the pair recently deciding to swim together for the Hawkeyes. It was Hoyt’s third-place finish in the 100-yard backstroke (1:03.07) that helped the Saints finish just ahead of Rosary.
Hoyt has been friends with Bindseil since she arrived at East after moving from Atlanta before her sophomore year.
“This was my second state meet in Illinois and it can be very overwhelming,” Hoyt said. “This year I knew what had to be done; it was my goal to make it to the finals of all of the races. I fulfilled that and got a best time, so I couldn’t be happier.”
A year after finishing 34th, Rosary's youthful team snuck into the top-10, taking ninth place just ahead of Naperville Central. Each of the Beads’ point-scoring swimmers is no older than a junior, with more youth on the way.
“To be able to come back this year and move up 20-something spots is truly amazing,” Rosary sophomore Annie Gosselin said. “I’m so pumped for next year and beyond because we’re getting some really good freshmen next year, so I’m just pumped to see what happens.”
Before Gosselin could look ahead, she was busy taking fourth in the 200-yard IM with a 2:05.05 while also helping the Beads’ earn a seventh-place finish in the 200-yard medley relay.
Junior Erin Hart also had a big day for Rosary, earning sixth place in the 50-yard freestyle (23.76) before joining Elaina Ricci, Georgia Young and Alexis Yager to help the Beads take 10th place in the 200-yard freestyle relay.
After last year's relatively low finish by Rosary standards, Beads coach Bill Schalz was pleased with his team's performance.
“We knew we were a top-10 team and if we had a great meet we could be a top-five team,” Schalz said. “Ironically, we were seventh in a couple relays. If they both stick, then we’re probably looking at sixth or seventh. Like every state meet there are ups and downs, but we just had a phenomenal day.”
St. Charles North’s Monica Guyett earned an eigthh-place finish in the 500-yard freestyle with a 4:57.80, besting her qualifying time by nearly a second.
New Trier took home its 14th state championship, narrowly beating second-place Downers Grove North.