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Archive for Sunday, May 9, 2004

Fun day for Firebirds

Relay record lifts FSHS; LHS fourth

May 9, 2004

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All year, the Free State High girls swimming and diving team has been shooting for a particular record in a particular event.

They are now one second closer.

Saturday, the Firebirds' 200 freestyle relay team shattered the Sunflower League record by better than a second at the Lawrence Indoor Aquatic Center, clocking a first-place time of 1:41.56.

The quartet of Ashley Robinson, Ashley Jackson, Kristen Karlin and Katie Swank now have one more mark to catch --the state record, set by Lawrence High in 1991. That team blazed to a 1:40.43 mark.

It's appealing enough to snatch such an elite record from a rival school, but the fact Free State coach Jama Crady was part of the record-setting LHS relay team makes it even more alluring.

"They're still a second and a half off mine," Crady said, laughing. "I think that's what they're gunning for. They want my name to come down."

The Firebirds' 257 total team points placed third behind Olathe East (275) and Shawnee Mission East (269). Lawrence High, a team that enjoyed a better-than-expected weekend, took fourth place after scoring 134 points.

Free State's redundant top two, known simply as "The Ashleys," each enjoyed solid days again. Robinson, a sophomore, grabbed league titles in the 200 individual medley and 500 freestyle. Jackson, a junior nursing a minor shoulder injury, still placed second in the 200 free and third in the 500 free.

But Saturday saw the emergence of Swank, next in line to become a Firebird great. Just a freshman, Swank won two individual championships and had a hand in both of Free State's championship relays. Swank won the 100 freestyle in 54.73, then easily snagged the 100 breaststroke gold medal in a time of 1:08.88.

The Free State High cheering section celebrates a close win by the
Firebirds in the finals of the 200-yard freestyle relay. The
Firebirds placed third at the Sunflower League meet Saturday at the
Lawrence Indoor Aquatic Center. Lawrence High finished in fourth
place. More photos from Saturday's action can be found on page 12C.

The Free State High cheering section celebrates a close win by the Firebirds in the finals of the 200-yard freestyle relay. The Firebirds placed third at the Sunflower League meet Saturday at the Lawrence Indoor Aquatic Center. Lawrence High finished in fourth place. More photos from Saturday's action can be found on page 12C.

"I was excited. We did well," Swank said. "We have some improvement to do, but we did improve from where we were."

Swank won the 100 breaststroke by nearly three seconds, and roughly was one second off the league record.

She'll have three years to go for that, though.

"Katie Swank is a stud," Crady said. "We've known all along that she is. She was absolutely on top of her game today. She was unstoppable."

The Lions, meanwhile, stood proud from the platform they built in the preliminaries Friday. After a strong day, LHS was in the drivers seat to grab fourth place, which was the team's goal in the beginning.

Behind third-place finishes by freshman Chelsea Dirks-Ham (50 freestyle) and sophomore Kristi Rudman (100 breaststroke), and fourth-place finishes in the 200- and 400-freestyle relays, the Lions placed fourth and beat the three squads they set out to top -- SM South, SM Northwest and Olathe South.

Free State High's Kelsi Mishler, left, and Lawrence High's Melissa
Farve start the 100-yard backstroke consolation heat at the
Sunflower League swimming championships. The meet was Saturday at
the Lawrence Indoor Aquatic Center.

Free State High's Kelsi Mishler, left, and Lawrence High's Melissa Farve start the 100-yard backstroke consolation heat at the Sunflower League swimming championships. The meet was Saturday at the Lawrence Indoor Aquatic Center.

"I'm really happy," LHS coach Ryan Adams said. "We did what was expected again today. We had a better meet yesterday, which is the good day to have the better meet, so I'm excited about that."

Rudman and Dirks-Ham, who also lent a hand in Lawrence's two relays that finished fourth, each will compete individually in two weeks at the state meet.

"It was really exciting," Rudman said of the 100 breaststroke, which she finished in 1:12.32. "It's my best time this season. My 200 IM wasn't so good today, so I had to get myself psyched up."

FSHS diver Cambry McNabb prepares for a dive. McNabb finished in
eighth place.

FSHS diver Cambry McNabb prepares for a dive. McNabb finished in eighth place.

The swimmers who qualified now will prepare for the Kansas state meet, which starts with preliminaries May 20 at the Kansas State Natatorium in Manhattan. The finals will be May 21.

Free State's expecting to take about 13 girls to the meet, including a certain four that's out to get a certain record that's partially owned by a certain coach.

You sweatin' a little bit, Crady?

"I want us to score as many points as possible," Crady said. "If anyone breaks that record, it better be my team."

LHS swimmers Kristen Longanecker, Melissa Farve and Kristi Rudman
cheer for teammate Julia Szabo during the 100-yard butterfly
finals.

LHS swimmers Kristen Longanecker, Melissa Farve and Kristi Rudman cheer for teammate Julia Szabo during the 100-yard butterfly finals.

Free State's Katie Swank swims the 100-yard freestyle finals. Swank
won the event, posting a time of 54.73.

Free State's Katie Swank swims the 100-yard freestyle finals. Swank won the event, posting a time of 54.73.

Lawrence's Chelsea Dirks-Ham dives into the pool at the start of
the 50-yard freestyle finals. Dirks-Ham placed third.

Lawrence's Chelsea Dirks-Ham dives into the pool at the start of the 50-yard freestyle finals. Dirks-Ham placed third.

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