MARSHALLTOWN — Four Newton Cardinal Swimming records were set Saturday at the 2014 IHSAA State Swimming Championships in the Marshalltown YMCA swimming pool. That took away a bit of the sting of not getting on the state podium in any of the seven events the Newton boys were qualified in.
“I think we’re all happy going home tonight. We did well and have a lot to be happy and thankful for,” said senior Josh Bailey, who anchored the Cardinals’ 200-yard medley relay in lowering its own school mark.
Bailey also swam the third-leg in the final event of the state meet — the 400-yard freestyle relay. It was the relay record Bailey, junior Jake Lensing and sophomores Austin Bunker and Isaak Webb were gunning for all season. They came close a week ago in the district meet.
“I’m pretty excited about the whole meet for us. The 400 relay record has been eluding us all year and to finally get it here at state is amazing,” said Bunker, who had been at state as a member of the 400 freestyle relay as a freshman.
Bunker led off the 400 relay with the fastest split for Newton, 48.70 seconds, then Webb, who now holds two individual NHS records in the pool, posted a 49.16-second second leg. Bailey set a goal of a low 50s leg in the relay accomplished that with a 51-second.
Then came Lensing.
“I was pretty down after not doing well in the 100 breaststroke right before the relay race,” Lensing said. “But Austin and Isaak led off with such good splits that I was encouraged. As Josh came toward me, I wanted to keep it going. This was our last chance this season to break the record.”
Lensing’s anchor swim was 50.07 seconds. As he touched, the other three Cardinal swimmers looked to head coach Dave Hook.
“Yeah, they were looking at me and with their eyes and faces were asking ‘did we do it, did we do it,’” Hook said. “That relay record has been around a long time.”
Taking 14th in the state in 3 minutes, 18.95 seconds, the Cardinal foursome broke the Newton 400-yard freestyle relay record. The old mark was 3:19.60 set in 1986 by J. Martin, C. Shaffer, K. Caves and S. Pritchard. Last year’s relay team that went to state posted a 3:19.96.
“We were just hoping Jake could keep his pace up at the end. We knew we had a shot at it,” Webb said.
The same four swimmers had the Newton 200-yard medley relay record going into the state meet. With Webb leading off in the backstroke followed by Lensing in the breaststroke, Bunker in the butterfly and Bailey swimming the anchor freestyle, the Cardinals lowered their record to 1:38.56. At district a week earlier, they had gone 1:39.20 to lower the mark.
Newton’s medley relay missed the podium by two places, finishing eighth. Newton had come in as the 10th fastest relay in the 200 medley and the 16th fastest in the 400 freestyle relay.
Webb lowered his Newton 200-yard individual medley record, placing eighth at state in 1:58.43. He had set the NHS IM record a week earlier at 1:59.76. Webb also set a new Newton record in the 100-yard butterfly, finishing seventh at state in 53.16.
“Not setting individual goals for state helped me. I have a tendency to get stressed out before a race when I set high goals for myself,” Webb said. “I just came into state open minded and to do the best I could. We’ve had a great season.”
The old NHS 100-yard butterfly record was 53.20 set by Chris Shaffer in 1986. Bunker placed 11th in the 100 butterfly at state in 53.83 seconds. R.J. Hemmingsen of Lewis Central set a state record in the butterfly in 48.84 seconds Saturday.
Bunker was 19th in the 200-yard freestyle race in 1:48.42. It came right after the 200-yard medley relay event.
“It’s just nerve wracking to be out there by yourself. With the relays, you’ve got three others with you,” Bunker said.
Asked about what the magic was for the medley relay this season, Bunker said, “sheer determination. We wanted it more. And that goes for the 400 free as well. We really wanted that record today.”
Lensing finished in tie for 18th in the 50-yard freestyle race in 22.41 seconds. Lensing placed 19th in the 100 breaststroke in 1:02.12.
“I wasn’t my best day for my individual events but our relays were good. Since I didn’t do very well in the individuals, I really wanted to help break the 400 relay record,” Lensing said.
Hook said the Cardinals had a great state meet with the school records and personal-best times. He said he told them before the meet that “we want to do as well as we can.”
“We had a great crowd with students and parents who came up to watch the guys today. That was great and we want to thank them,” Hook said. “We wanted to get our relays in the top 10. We got one and go close with the other. We had great splits. I’m proud of what our guys did today.”
Bailey is one of four seniors leaving the Cardinal team. He said he had a great season with personal-times in almost all of his events.
“I accomplished everything I wanted to today, except getting on the podium,” Bailey said and smiled. “I had fun this season and helping set two school relay records at state was a big adrenaline rush.”
Hook said the team loses the four seniors but the future of Cardinal swimming looks super with a lot of guys coming back.
“I can see us doing even better next year,” Hook said.