The storyline of the 42nd girls state swimming finals is not whether Carmel wins a record 30th successive championship. That is going to happen.
The questions are: Can the Greyhounds set national records, and are they as good as 2015 Carmel, arguably the greatest high school team ever in the sport?
“Certainly, we set a very high standard a year ago,” coach Chris Plumb said.
The Greyhounds aren’t lowering standards, either.
Claire Adams and Veronica Burchill broke their own state records in preliminaries Friday night at IUPUI’s Natatorium. Out of 27 swims, Carmel advanced 20 to championship finals and five to consolations.
Swim finals start at 1 p.m. Saturday.
The Greyhounds might not set four national records, as they did last year, or exceed their record 445 points. But they are top seeds in eight of 11 swimming events, and nine victories would tie their record. They are on track for a fourth successive top national ranking, and, oh yeah, No. 30 in a row in Indiana.
Carmel last year tied the national record of 29 straight held by Punahou School, a Honolulu prep school that won in Hawaii boys swimming from 1958-86.
Plumb said the hardest thing about this state meet was waiting for it.
“Even though we knew how strong we were this year, it’s still just a matter of coming out and doing it,” he said. “And you can’t help but be nervous. No matter how well prepared you are, you still have to be ready to do it.”
He said there is “a lot more in there,” notably from Adams and Burchill.
Adams’ time in the 100-yard backstroke was 51.65 seconds, breaking her own record of 51.99 from last year’s prelims. She was 0.22 from the national record set by Olivia Smoliga of Glenbrook South (Ill.) in 2012. In little more than four months, at the U.S. trials, Adams will attempt to make Olympic team.
Perhaps more notable was the 100 freestyle, which is not Adams’ specialty. Her 48.63 was close to the 48.36 set last year by Carmel’s Amy Bilquist, a Cal freshman who is another Olympic candidate.
“I was actually a little nervous this year,” Adams said. “I think we all were a little bit just because it’s such a big year for us. There are so many people here to support us and to lift us up.”
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Burchill’s time of 52.13 in the 100 butterfly broke her own mark of 52.26 and is within range of the national record of 51.70. She will be up against Crown Point junior Hannah Kukurugya, who had the second-fastest time (53.44) and won a bronze medal at August’s World Junior Championships.
If there is pressure, Burchill said, all that does is make the Greyhounds faster. They push each other, she said, and lift each other.
“I mean, tomorrow I’m just going to have fun,” she said. “Last one, fun one. I’ve been saying that all season.”
Carmel junior Emma Nordin is top seed in the 200 freestyle, 1:46.03, and 500 freestyle, 4:49.01. She was less than a second from Adams’ state record of 1:45.09 in the 200.
Kukurugya and Carmel junior Sammie Burchill, sister of Veronica, had the top two times in the 200 individual medley: 1:58.59 and 1:59.42, respectively. Hamilton Southeastern senior Robyn Clevenger had the only sub-23-second 50 freestyle, 22.83.
Call IndyStar reporter David Woods at (317) 444-6195. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidWoods007.