GRINNELL — Qualifying for state is the ultimate goal of swimming in the regional meet. A drop in times for as many swimmers as possible is another goal, which might lead to the first one.
NCMP’s Aquagirls saw drops in times across the board during Saturday’s swim regional meet hosted by Grinnell at Grinnell College. They were able to qualify for the 2019 state swimming meet in four events — the 100-yard butterfly, the 200 medley relay, the 200 freestyle relay and the 400 freestyle relay.
When NCMP’s swimmers and coaches walked out of the Grinnell College’s natatorium Saturday afternoon, they only knew for sure that sophomore Hannah Nedder qualified in the butterfly. The three relays were fast but finished second, fifth and fourth, respectively, so it was a waiting game until all regional results were in.
They were fast enough.
Nedder will be swimming in four events at the state meet as she is a member of all three Aquagirl relays.
“We’ve been doing really well on our relays this year and we dropped time in all three — three seconds each on the medley and 400 free,” Nedder said. “I’m excited to go with all the ladies on the relays because we’ve gotten really close.”
Nedder knew she already had a berth at the state meet in the 100 butterfly because of meeting state standard time earlier in the season. She said her target time for the regional was 57.9 seconds.
Nedder didn’t go quite that fast but did post a personal-best 58.51. She was third behind two Waukee swimmers who went 57.66 and 58.30.
“Overall, a very good meet for us. We dropped time in every event, ranging from really shocking drops like Arabela’s IM and Allison’s breaststroke to a second or two for season’s bests,” NCMP head coach Sarah Patterson said. “Any time drop is a victory because swimming is a hard sport. Everybody feels good about what they accomplished this season.”
For most of the NCMP swimmers, Saturday’s regional meet was the final swim of the season and, for some, the final swim of their careers. It was the first regional for some swimmers and for NCMP’s one diver.
On Thursday, junior Kenleigh Jack concluded her first-ever season of diving for the Aquagirls. Jack put up her personal-best score of 230.65 points while competing at the Waukee Family YMCA pool.
Jack finished 14th in the field of divers. NCMP shared a diving coach with Grinnell for the second season.
“This meet was everything you could ask for from an athlete: positivity, confidence, continued improvement, and enjoyment of the sport,” Deidre Freeman Huff said. “Kenleigh finished her season better than expected, and we’re both excited for her senior season. I have been so fortunate to coach such a hard working, dedicated athlete.”
The Aquagirls’ 200 medley relay team of Nedder, senior Kenzie Van Maanen and freshmen Maylei Ruggles and Lillie Ray went in with a season’s-best of 1 minute, 55.03 seconds. The foursome posted a new season’s-best of 1:52.60 for second place to Waukee’s 1:49.05 and qualified as the No. 15 seed for state.
Nedder, Ruggles and Ray combined with sophomore Maggie Garrett for a season’s-best 1:43.04 — a second drop of time — for fifth in the regional 200 freestyle relay. It qualified for state as 24th fastest in a field of 32.
To conclude the regional meet, NCMP’s team of Nedder, sophomore Lauren Zaabel, senior Erika Van Sickle and Ray posted a new season’s-best time of 3:49.10 for fourth. It qualified for state as the No. 26 fastest.
All three NCMP relays will be in timed finals on Saturday at the 2019 state meet at the Marshalltown YMCA/YWCA.
“My time (in the butterfly) wasn’t the time I had in mind but I’m still happy I dropped time. I have next week to go for another target time,” Nedder said. “It was a great race. As for state, I’d like to go under 58 (seconds) and qualify for the finals. I was so close last year.”
In the 2018 state meet preliminaries, Nedder finished 17th. The top eight finishers advance to the state finals on Saturday and the next eight finishers are in a consolation final on Saturday. Nedder is working toward a Saturday swim in her individual race.
Senior Allison Paulius and Van Maanen were the other Aquagirls to make the regional podium. Paulius and Van Maanen were third and fifth, respectively, in the 100 breaststroke in season’s-best times of 1:11.30 and 1:11.94. There was a disqualification in the race when a swimmer left the blocks too soon.
Garrett was seventh in the breaststroke in 1:15.04. Ray was eighth in the 100 freestyle in 55.75 seconds with Van Sickle in 11th at 58.07 and Zaabel in 13th at 58.48 seconds. Zaabel placed ninth in the 200 freestyle at 2:08.59, Van Sickle was 12th in 2:12.55 and junior Natalie Boll was 13th in 2:15.57.
Ruggles placed 10th in the butterfly in 1:06.07 and junior Chloe Kibbee placed 13th in 1:04.2. Ruggles and Garrett were 11th and 12th in the 50 freestyle in 25.93 and 26.25.
Senior Emma Thomas swam just one race at regional and posted a personal-best time of 27.95 seconds in the 50 freestyle. She wrapped up her four-year career swimming for NCMP at her first regional meet.
“It was kind of sad but very exciting to be with the team,” Thomas said. “The environment was great and really fun. I was nervous. I was really happy to see the time up there. It’s been great as a team this season. We’re a family. All these young kids are going to do a lot of great things as they go on.”
In the 500 freestyle, Boll placed 12th in 6:08.33 with seniors Courtney Dawson and Abbie Hill taking 15th and 16th, respectively, in personal-best times of 6:14.93 and 6:18.21. Van Maanen was 13th in the 200 individual medley in 2:26.38 followed by Paulius in 14th in 2:30.01.
Junior Arabella Eide was 15th in the 200 IM in 2:32.48, which was a seven-second drop in time. Eide placed 13th in another season’s-best time of 1:12.45 in the 100 backstroke. Kibbee was 15th in 1:14.45 and freshman Emily Vandermolen was 17th in 1:16.60.
“We had a few disappointments but coach (Jenny) Jensen and I are so proud of all of our swimmers. We look back at the season as a whole and it was a good one,” Patterson said. “I’m excited for our future and we’ll miss our amazing seniors.
“It was a tough regional and I thought we competed very well. We put ourselves out there and made a name for ourselves.”
Waukee rolled to the regional championship with 524 points. Cedar Falls was second with 422 followed by Cedar Rapids Kennedy with 399 and Cedar Rapids Washington with 270 points.
NCMP finished fifth with 237 points. Burlington and Grinnell tied for sixth with 91 points each and Fairfield was eighth with 66 points.
Contact Jocelyn Sheets at
641-792-3121 ext. 6535