The next 12 months, beginning with Thursday’s start of the USA Swimming Championships, could be momentous for Carmel swimmers.
They could produce their first Olympian and perhaps first Olympic medalist.
They could win a 30th consecutive state championship, which would be a U.S. record for any high school sport.
They could place four girls on national teams.
The latter is what they are attempting to do at San Antonio this week. Claire Adams, Amy Bilquist, Veronica Burchill and Emma Nordin – each a state champion – helped Carmel Swim Club win its first junior nationals team title a year ago. But that’s so 2014. All have moved up to senior nationals in 2015, testing themselves against a field weakened by absence of those at the World Championships.
Carmel coach Chris Plumb said this meet represents “a good stepping stone” to the elite.
“After they won, they didn’t need to go back,” he said of transitioning from juniors to seniors. “We did want to force their hand and move in that direction.”
This will be a revealing week for Bilquist, who has the best shot of making it to the Rio Olympics. She has raced once (a 50-meter freestyle) since March while recovering from stress fractures in both legs. She continued to swim – doing flip turns at the end of laps without pushing off the wall – and to lift upper-body weights.
Plumb said Bilquist’s injuries aren’t completely healed but that she affirmed fitness in one race. Without tapering, she swam the 50 free in 25.03 seconds, breaking her own Indiana 17-18 record by .01.
“She’s a racer. Ultimately, that’s what makes her good,” Plumb said.
Bilquist soon leaves for the University of California, but her three teammates return. Carmel has such depth that even without those four, it placed 11th in girls standings at junior nationals. Sammie Burchill was ninth in the 200-meter backstroke in 2:15.43, qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Trials, and Trude Rothrock was 12th in the 100 freestyle (her 56.60 was .11 from the cut).
Adams and perhaps Nordin have a chance to qualify for the under-17 World Junior Championships later this month in Singapore. (Veronica Burchill turns 18 in October and is not eligible by age.) Carmel’s big four haven’t rested for a meet since March.
“I just think they’re chomping at the bit to race,” Plumb said.
Swift 100s by local swimmers
In the sport’s marquee event, the 100-meter freestyle, local swimmers posted breakthroughs last week.
In a time trial at junior nationals, Drew Kibler’s 51.35 set an Indiana age-group record and is the nation’s fastest by a 15-year-old boy. Kibler, third in the state meet’s 100-yard freestyle as a North Central freshman, trained with Carmel Swim Club over the summer.
Also at junior nationals, Arizona-bound Parks Jones of Avon was ninth in 50.99. He was third in the 200 and 400 freestyles in 1:50.01 and 3:56.13, respectively, to make cuts for the Olympic Trials.
The cut in the 100 free is 50.69, and Zionsville’s Kyle DeCoursey met that with a meet record of 50.36 in prelims of the National Club Swimming Association’s nationals at the Natatorium at IUPUI. He swam a 49.92 anchor leg for a second-place team in the 400 free relay. The Tennessee-bound DeCoursey set a meet record of 23.31 in the 50 free, just off his best of 23.28 (trials cut is 23.29).
Elsewhere at club nationals, Lauren Edelman, 16, of Fishers Area Swimming Tigers was second in the girls 400 individual medley in 4:48.40 to qualify for the trials. Glen Brown, 18, of Fishers was third in the boys 200 free in 1:53.00 (trials cut is 1:51.89). In combined scoring, Fishers was 13th and Zionsville Swim Club 15th. In boys scoring, Zionsville finished fifth.
Sports of all sorts
• Diving: Greenwood’s Zach Cooper finished second on platform for boys 16-18 in the USA Diving Championships at Orlando, Fla.
• Soccer: Zionsville 99 Select (under-16 girls) won U.S. Club Soccer’s National Cup finals, held at Grand Park in Westfield. The event featured 124 teams from across the country.
• Swimming: Indianapolis has tentatively been awarded an Arena Pro Series meet by USA Swimming for June 2-5, 2016. It would be one of the last chances to qualify for Olympic Trials. The Natatorium is also site of this week’s YMCA nationals. … Incoming Indiana University freshman Miranda Tucker of Plymouth, Mich., won the 100 and 200 breaststrokes and was third in the 200 individual medley at junior nationals. Thus IU freshmen Lilly King (1:06.93) and Tucker (1:08.32) rank 1-2 in the nation in the 100 breaststroke for girls 17-18 and are Nos. 4 and 9 on the all-time list. … Host Boilermaker Aquatics won combined and men’s team scoring in the futures meet, a championship for those who didn’t qualify for junior nationals. Purdue’s Nate Hopkins (Westfield) won the 800 freestyle in 8:24.32.
• Triathlon: Carmel’s Zach Wilson, 14, stayed unbeaten in Youth Elite Cup events in winning his first national title at West Chester, Ohio. His time was 30:25 for a 375-meter swim, 10-kilometer bike and 2,500-meter run. Andrew Shellenberger, Indianapolis, was third in 31:38. Chase McQueen, Columbus, was third among junior elite men.
• Volleyball: Purdue’s Danielle Cuttino (Ben Davis) was on the U.S. junior women’s national team that won a gold medal in the European Global Challenge at Pula, Croatia. In the Americans’ climactic 3-2 victory over Italy, Cuttino started all five sets and had five kills, one block and one ace.
Call Star reporter David Woods at (317) 444-6195. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidWoods007.