Topeka Free State’s Courtney Caldwell was concerned.
When she jumped into the pool to warm up before Friday’s Class 6A state preliminaries at Capitol Federal Natatorium, Caldwell felt aching in her arms and soreness in her shoulders.
“I was like, ‘This is not going to be good,’” Caldwell said. “But then I just reinforced my attitude, got in and did well.”
And set two new 6A records in the process.
Caldwell set new state-best marks in the 50 free and 100 free, finishing with the best qualifying time in both events.
It was the second straight year that Caldwell set a 6A record in the 50 free preliminary rounds. As a freshman in 2012, Caldwell posted a time of 23.49, which beat the previous record set by Topeka’s Shara Stafford in 2006 (23.57).
Caldwell re-wrote her own mark Friday, dropping two-tenths of a second to establish a new time of 23.29.
“My goal was to swim fast. ... It wasn’t necessarily to break (the record),” Caldwell said. “I think it was just to go faster than what I have before.”
Caldwell dropped significant time in the 100 free, as her seed time coming in was 51.24 seconds. Friday’s mark of 50.88 eclipsed the previous 6A best — also set by Stafford — in 2005 (50.97).
“I’ve gone faster in club (in the 100). In my head mentally, I’d be disappointed in myself if I didn’t go faster than what I have been going,” Caldwell said. “It was just a mental pushing thing.”
Caldwell also was part of two Free State relay teams that had the top qualifying times Friday. The 200 free relay of Sydney Sirimongkhon-Dyck, Eliza Anderson, Cierra Campbell and Caldwell were just 21 hundredths off the 6A record time with a mark of 1:37.98, while the 400 free relay of Campbell, Anderson, Lucy Sirimongkhon-Dyck and Caldwell coasted to a qualifying time five seconds faster (3:37.37) than second-place Olathe East (3:43.14).
The Firebirds also received some early points thanks to their divers.
Free State senior Annie Soderberg led the way, finishing fifth in the finals despite competing with a jammed pinky. She suffered the injury after swinging her hand back and hitting the diving board’s metal railing during Thursday’s semifinals.
“I held back in warmups. I didn’t warm up all my dives,” Soderberg said. “It was mentally in my mind, but not too bad.”
Teammate Jacqueline Zaitz took seventh, while Haley Johnson was 13th. Lawrence’s Alison Williams finished in 15th.
LHS’s best performances Friday came from Gretchen Frick and Heather Cistola.
Frick had the fourth-best qualifying time in the 500 free (5:12.31) and sixth-best mark in the 200 IM (2:13.48).
The junior said she had high hopes for improving her 500 time during Saturday’s finals, especially after dropping nearly eight seconds from her previous-best at the Sunflower League meet on May 4.
“I usually swim the second half faster,” Frick said. “I think I need to start swimming fast earlier on so that I can place higher.”
Meanwhile, Cistola qualified for finals in the 100 butterfly (fifth, 1:00.93) and 200 free (seventh, 1:59.78).
“It was good. Mainly, I was just trying to make it back (to finals),” Cistola said. “I wasn’t going for best times or anything. I just wanted to feel the water and see how I was going to feel (today).”
Free State, which should be in the running for a top-three finish, qualified for today’s finals in nine other events: Campbell in the 200 free (third) and 500 free (fifth); Sydney Sirimongkhon-Dyck in the 50 free (fourth) and 100 free (seventh); Anderson in the 100 back (fifth) and 200 free (sixth); Lucy Sirimongkhon-Dyck in the 200 IM (seventh) and 100 back (seventh); and the 200 medley relay team of Lucy Sirimongkhon-Dyck, Kat LaFever, Sydney Sirimongkhon-Dyck and Alexa Malik (fourth).
The Lions also had a pair of relays qualify for finals. The 200 free relay team of Miranda Rohn, Frick, Cistola and Nicole Oblon finished fifth, while the 400 free relay team of Frick, Oblon, Rohn and Cistola was seventh.
LHS coach Kent McDonald remained optimistic his team could finish in the top 10.
“Pretty much everyone is off a little bit from where they were seeded and a couple spots behind. That’s not terrible, but it would have been better to be a little quicker,” McDonald said. “But (today) is where it really counts.”
Bishop Seabury had five events that qualified for today’s 5-1A finals, with two coming from Phoebe Grabill, who qualified second in the 200 free (1:57.26) and 500 free (5:13.64).
City results (Preliminaries; top eight qualify for finals, next eight for consolation finals)
200 medley relay — 4. Free State (Lucy Sirimongkhon-Dyck, Kat LaFever, Sydney Sirimongkhon-Dyck, Alexa Malik) 1:55.30; 5. Lawrence (Miranda Rohn, Gretchen Frick, Heather Cistola, Nicole Oblon) 1:55.41.
200 free — 3. Cierra Campbell, FSHS, 1:55.65; 6. Eliza Anderson, FSHS, 1:59.19; 7. Heather Cistola, LHS, 1:59.78; 15. Annie Odrowski, LHS, 2:06.65; 18. Morgan Miller, FSHS, 2:07.94.
200 IM — 6. Gretchen Frick, LHS, 2:13.48; 7. Lucy Sirimongkhon-Dyck, FSHS, 2:17.86; 10. Kate McCurdy, FSHS, 2:19.23; 18. Anna McCurdy, FSHS, 2:21.50.
50 free — 1. Courtney Caldwell, FSHS, 23.29; 4. Sydney Sirimongkhon-Dyck, FSHS, 24.78; 14. Alexa Malik, FSHS, 25.95.
100 fly — 5. Heather Cistola, LHS, 1:00.93; 11. Miranda Rohn, LHS, 1:03.22; 23. Kat LaFever, FSHS, 1:08.19.
100 free — 1. Courtney Caldwell, FSHS, 50.88; 7. Sydney Sirimongkhon-Dyck, FSHS, 55.09; 15. Alexa Malik, FSHS, 56.45.
500 free — 4. Gretchen Frick, LHS, 5:12.31; 5. Cierra Campbell, FSHS, 5:13.42; 13. Anna McCurdy, FSHS, 5:35.97; 17. Kate McCurdy, FSHS, 5:41.97; 19. Annie Odrowski, LHS, 5:46.89; 22. Morgan Miller, FSHS, 5:50.10; 23. Alex Ginsberg, LHS, 5:55.72.
200 free relay — 1. Free State (Sydney Sirimongkhon-Dyck, Eliza Anderson, Cierra Campbell, Courtney Caldwell) 1:37.98; 10. Lawrence (Nicole Oblon, Hannah Lee, Annie Odrowski, Miranda Rohn) 1:46.64.
100 back — 5. Eliza Anderson, FSHS, 1:00.03; 7. Lucy Sirimongkhon-Dyck, FSHS, 1:00.28.
100 breast — 12. Kat LaFever, FSHS, 1:14.82; 20. Trenna Soderling, FSHS, 1:16.84; 23. Eliot Eckersley, FSHS, 1:19.23; 24. Hannah Lee, LHS, 1:20.58.
400 free relay — 1. Free State (Cierra Campbell, Eliza Anderson, Lucy Sirimongkhon-Dyck, Courtney Caldwell) 3:37.37; 7. Lawrence (Gretchen Frick, Nicole Oblon, Miranda Rohn, Heather Cistola) 3:47.81.
1 meter diving — 5. Annie Soderberg, FSHS, 336.70; 7. Jacqueline Zaitz, FSHS, 331.60; 13. Haley Johnson, FSHS, 286.75; 15. Allison Williams, LHS, 282.55.
Seabury results (Preliminaries; top eight qualify for finals; next eight for consolation finals)
200 medley relay — 5. Seabury (Phoebe Grabill, Elizabeth Padgett, Maddie McCaffrey, Emma Stilgenbauer) 1:58.65.
200 free — 2. Phoebe Grabill, 1:57.26.
200 IM — 7. Maddie McCaffrey, 2:28.96.
50 free — 11. Elizabeth Padgett, 25.92.
100 fly — 18. Maddie McCaffrey, 1:06.25.
100 free — 9. Elizabeth Padgett, 57.82; 11. Emma Stilgenbauer, 58.45.
500 free — 2. Phoebe Grabill, 5:13.64.
200 free relay — 4. Seabury (Elizabeth Padgett, Emilie Padgett, Emma Stilgenbauer, Phoebe Grabill), 1:46.13.
100 back — 13. Emma Stilgenbauer, 1:07.05.