INDIANAPOLIS – When you’re a 15-year-old Indiana swimmer poised to break a record held by Lilly King … well, that’s kind of a big deal.
Yorktown sophomore Emily Weiss had the fastest prelim Friday night in the 100-yard breaststroke at the girls state swimming and diving meet. Her time of 59.75 seconds was barely off the record of 59.63 set two years ago by King, an Evansville Reitz graduate who went on to Indiana University and won two gold medals at the Rio Olympics.
Weiss will have another shot at the record in the finals, which start at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Natatorium at IUPUI.
“If I get that record, it would be a total confidence booster,” she said. “(King) is like one of my biggest role models.”
There will be more drama in races than in team scoring, as is usually the case in this meet. Carmel qualified 21 of 22 individual swimmers for championship or consolation finals, all three relays and posted top times in five of 11 events. The Greyhounds’ state title would be their 31st in succession, extending their national record for all sports.
Yet Carmel swimmers are not the machines they might be characterized to be. Coach Chris Plumb said they were tentative early, and they were beaten in the opening 200-yard medley relay, an event they have won in each of the past eight years.
“Always carrying the idea that we should win hurts us early in this meet,” Plumb said. “Once we get over that, we’re good to go.”
Coincidentally, Weiss has a tendency to “spin her wheels” early in breaststroke races, Yorktown coach Tony Santino said. She won last year as a freshman, but she has come so far so fast that it’s difficult not to project the future.
She is a contender to make the U.S. team for August’s World Junior Championships, also at the Natatorium. And the 2020 Tokyo Olympics?
“It’s kind of way out there right now,” Santino said.
A more immediate goal is King’s state record and the national age-group record of 58.80 held by Alex Wash of Nashville, Tenn. Walsh, 15, clocked that time in beating Weiss in December’s East junior nationals at Columbus, Ohio.
Weiss hasn’t concentrated on swimming as long as some of her peers. She abandoned basketball after middle school. It was especially hard to leave softball.
“That was one of my favorite sports,” she said. “I was a given a gift of swimming, so I had to take it seriously.”
Another defending state champion, Carmel senior Emma Nordin, posted top times of 1:47.88 and 4:46.98 in the 200 and 500 freestyles. The latter came close to the state record of 4:45.15, which she set in 2015 prelims.
Nordin hasn’t won a sectional race since 2015 and came into this meet seeded 10th in her two events. She “takes care of business” at state, as Plumb put it.
“Once she settled down in the 500, she was beautiful.”
The other Carmel swimmer to post a top time was sophomore Kelly Pash, 49.17 in the 100 freestyle. Carmel senior Sammie Burchill had No. 2 times in the 200 individual medley and 100 backstroke.
Burchill, the defending champ, clocked 1:59.35, and Crown Point’s Hannah Kukurugya 1:57.99 in the 200 IM. Center Grove’s Michelle McKeehan set the state record of 1:56.87 in 2008.
Call IndyStar reporter David Woods at (317) 444-6195. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidWoods007.