Olathe Though Free State High’s girls swimming team might not be champion of the Sunflower League, the Firebirds can definitely be considered queens of the relay.
The Firebirds swept the three relays in impressive fashion Saturday, setting a league record and school record in the process on their way to a second-place finish in the Sunflower League meet at Prairie Trail Middle School.
“That was definitely a goal, and they did it — and with great times, too,” FSHS coach Annette McDonald said. “I’m really proud of the girls.”
Free State’s 259.5 points were second behind only Shawnee Mission East (311.5). Lawrence High finished fifth out of 11 league teams with 129 points.
The Firebirds’ 200 free relay team of Sydney Sirimongkhon-Dyck, Alexa Malik, Eliza Anderson and Courtney Caldwell blazed to a win with a time of 1:39.01.
Sirimongkhon-Dyck immediately alerted her teammates that it was a school-best mark, with the four gathering for a group hug just outside of the pool.
In the final event of the day, Cierra Campbell, Anderson, Lucy Sirimongkhon-Dyck and Caldwell set a league record in the 400 free relay with a time of 3:35.37. That came despite the fact that Lucy Sirimongkhon-Dyck and Anderson had just swum in previous events.
“I was tired,” Lucy Sirimongkhon-Dyck said, “but we all knew we had to go for it.”
The race also had its share of drama. Caldwell was 2.72 seconds behind Shawnee Mission East when she entered the pool for the anchor leg.
“It really wasn’t an option to lose at that point,” Caldwell said. “I wasn’t planning on losing. I just kind of dove in and did what I did.”
The sophomore made up ground quickly, opening up a lead down the stretch as FSHS won by 1.79 seconds.
Caldwell also had a record-setting individual day, setting league bests in the 50 free (23.39 seconds) and 100 free (51.42 seconds). The 50 free mark broke her own record set at the league meet last year (23.71 seconds).
“I don’t really know what happens when I dive in and swim,” Caldwell said of her 50 free race. “I just do it, because I love racing.”
Gretchen Frick paced the LHS swimmers, finishing second in the 500 free with a time of 5:11.89. That was nearly eight seconds better than her preliminary time on Friday (5:19.76).
Frick said her main goal was to try to get at least fifth, which is where she finished at league last year.
“I think I was a lot more warmed up and pumped up,” Frick said.
The junior also had motivation in the lane next to her, as she tried to stay close to Free State’s Campbell, one of her club teammates.
Campbell finished right behind Frick in third with a time of 5:16.99, and the two hugged across their lanes following the race.
“I think going at 5:11 gave me a lot of confidence going into state, because my best time ever is six seconds faster than that,” Frick said. “So knowing I was able to do that, I think I can do well at state, too.”
Other top-three individual finishes for LHS came from Heather Cistola in the 100 butterfly (third, 59.61) and Frick in the 200 IM (third, 2:12.98). The 200 medley relay team of Miranda Rohn, Frick, Cistola and Nicole Oblon also took second (1:54.21).
LHS coach Kent McDonald left impressed with the sophomore Oblon, who competed in the three relays and also the 50 free (12th), and Rohn, who dropped nearly a second off her preliminary time to take eighth in the 100 backstroke (1:03.33).
“What was really good is they were motivated,” McDonald said of his swimmers. “They knew what they needed to do, and they went out and did it. I was really proud of them.”
For Free State, other top-three performances came from the 200 medley relay team of Lucy Sirimongkhon-Dyck, Kat LaFever, Campbell and Sydney Sirimongkhon-Dyck in the 200 medley relay (first, 1:54.05), Campbell in the 200 free (tie for second, 1:57.15), Lucy Sirimongkhon-Dyck in the 100 backstroke (third, 1:01.13) and Annie Soderberg in diving (356.35).
FSHS coach Annette McDonald also was pleased with the efforts of Kate McCurdy, who dropped five seconds off her preliminary time to finish ninth in the 500 free (5:38.19), and Malik, who stepped into the 200 free relay for the first time this year.
Both teams will compete in the Free State Last Chance Meet on Thursday before state begins on May 16 in Topeka.
Team scores — Shawnee Mission East 311.5, Free State 259.5, Olathe East 184, Olathe Northwest 146, Lawrence 129, Shawnee Mission Northwest 102, Shawnee Mission North 74, Shawnee Mission West 66, Shawnee Mission South 47, Olathe North 36, Olathe South 25.
200 medley relay — 1. Free State (Lucy Sirimongkhon-Dyck, Kat LaFever, Cierra Campbell, Sydney Sirimongkhon-Dyck) 1:54.05; 2. LHS (Miranda Rohn, Gretchen Frick, Heather Cistola, Nicole Oblon) 1:54.21.
200 free — T2. Cierra Campbell, FSHS, 1:57.15 4. Heather Cistola, LHS, 1:58.34; 5. Eliza Anderson, FSHS, 2:00.18.
200 IM — 3. Gretchen Frick, LHS, 2:12.98; 4. Lucy Sirimongkhon-Dyck, FSHS, 2:17.34.
50 free — 1. Courtney Caldwell, FSHS, 23.39; 2. Sydney Sirimongkhon-Dyck, FSHS, 24.52; 8. Alexa Malik, FSHS, 25.98; 12. Nicole Oblon, LHS, 27.23.
1 meter diving — 3. Annie Soderberg, FSHS, 356.35; 9. Jacqueline Zaitz, FSHS, 294.10; 11. Haley Johnson, FSHS, 284.20.
100 butterfly — 3. Heather Cistola, LHS, 59.61; 5. Syndey Sirimongkhon-Dyck, FSHS, 1:01.95; 6. Miranda Rohn, LHS, 1:03.67.
100 free — 1. Courtney Caldwell, FSHS, 51.42; 7. Alexa Malik, FSHS, 56.42.
500 free — 2. Gretchen Frick, LHS, 5:11.89; 3. Cierra Campbell, FSHS, 5:16.99; 9. Kate McCurdy, FSHS, 5:38.19.
200 free relay — 1. Free State (Sydney Sirimongkhon-Dyck, Alexa Malik, Eliza Anderson, Courtney Caldwell) 1:39.01; 6. Lawrence (Annie Odrowski, Madison Ruder, Nicole Kelly, Nicole Oblon) 1:50.44.
100 back — 3. Lucy Sirimongkhon-Dyck, FSHS, 1:01.13; 7. Eliza Anderson, FSHS, 1:01.07; 8. Miranda Rohn, LHS, 1:03.33.
100 breast — 6. Kat LaFever, FSHS, 1:15.88; 12. Trenna Soderling, FSHS, 1:18.57.
400 free relay — 1. Free State (Cierra Campbell, Eliza Anderson, Lucy Sirimongkhon-Dyck, Courtney Caldwell) 3:35.37; 4. LHS (Gretchen Frick, Nicole Oblon, Miranda Rohn, Heather Cistola) 3:48.40.