A fourth consecutive state title wasn’t a given for the Ames girls’ swimming team, but the Little Cyclones got it done Saturday.
“I don’t know what we were expecting. We knew we had the potential to do it, but we don’t expect anything,” Ames senior and 100-yard backstroke champion Sara Bentley said. “After the first year we were like, ‘Wow, we did this,’ and we just kept it going.”
The Little Cyclones joined Cedar Falls (1993-98), Bettendorf (1999-02), West Des Moines Valley (2005-08) and Des Moines Hoover (1969-71) as the only teams in the history of the event to win four straight.
Hoover won in 1969-70 and claimed the spring and fall championships in 1971.
Ames, which finished with 302 team points, beat Pleasant Valley by 53 points. Valley finished third with 182. Waukee placed eighth and Johnston 10th.
It was a true team effort for the Little Cyclones. Bentley was Ames’ only individual winner.
“It means so much to win the team title again; we have been through so much together, we worked so hard all summer,” said Bentley. “It’s really important to all of us.”
The individual star of the afternoon came from Southeast Polk.
Rams sophomore Allyssa Fluit won the 200-yard freestyle, setting a new Iowa record in the process with a time of 1:49.43.
The previous record was set last year by Pleasant Valley’s Gabbie Stecker.
“At the beginning I was really nervous because I thought I was going to false-start,” Fluit said. “Once I got in the water I was good and I knew I wanted to break the record, but I had no idea that I actually would.”
Fluit wasn’t done. She also won the 500-yard freestyle, clocking in at 4:56.61, the second-best time ever at state. Only last year’s winner, Stecker, had a better time.
“Even though I didn’t have the best ever, I’m still really proud of myself for second-best,” said Fluit. “Last year when Gabbie Stecker beat me in the 500, we shook hands and we were cool with each other. I look up to her, she had some amazing times.”
Ames also set a state record in the 200-yard medley relay in 1:45.50. Bentley, senior Sydney Sorenson, freshman Grace Snyder and junior Katie Sailer were members of the relay in the first event of the day.
Head coach Dan Flannery said it was all about setting the tone.
“We try not to get caught up in our time. You could say it’s a goal of ours, but it really wasn’t,” Flannery said. “We just wanted to be able to get the points on the board in the early going and get some momentum right away.”