Carmel (Ind.) pushes national record to 31 consecutive state girls swimming titles

The Carmel Girls Swim Team jumps in the diving pool after winning the IHSAA girls swimming state finals, held at IUPUI Natatorium, Feb. 11, 2017.

The Carmel Girls Swim Team jumps in the diving pool after winning the IHSAA girls swimming state finals, held at IUPUI Natatorium (Photo: Michelle Pemberton, Indy Star)


INDIANAPOLIS –  Sammie Burchill decided on the bus ride home from last year’s state finals that she was going to break the state record in the 200-yard individual medley.

Burchill had just won the state title hours earlier, but was embracing the sentiment that Carmel coach Chris Plumb ingrains into all of his swimmers: Never settle for being satisfied with where you are.

So, Burchill — verbally committed to Georgia — pushed herself back into the weight room, worked on her technique in each leg of the medley and counted down the days until Saturday’s IHSAA swimming and diving championship.

“It’s really been 365 days of trying to get back and ready for this moment,” Plumb said on the pool deck of the Natatorium at IUPUI before the final team results were announced. “Obviously, she worked hard all season. She had some great workouts where we felt like it was coming, but it’s always something else when you come and do it.”

 Burchill could feel the déjà vu taking over as she streamlined out of her flip turn on the backstroke leg of Saturday’s race, catching a glimpse of Crown Point’s Hannah Kukurugya, whom she upset in the 2016 championship race.

But as Burchill entered her final 25 yards, the contest was no longer between her and Kukurugya. It was between her and a nearly decade-old record set by Center Grove’s Michelle McKeehan in 2008 — McKeehan herself a Georgia Bulldog.

And Burchill got it, by one-fifth of a second, with a time of 1 minute, 56.67 seconds. A new state record-holder. Just like her sister, Veronica, who set the new 100 butterfly record last year for Carmel before heading to Georgia as well.

“It was a little strange, I’ll admit that,” Burchill said of swimming without her sister cheering her on. “But I know she was there, texting me, FaceTiming me, all last night and today. I knew she was here in spirit and she was definitely watching, but having her not on deck, that was a first for me.”

The post-meet plunge with her Carmel teammates, however, was nothing new for Burchill. The Greyhounds pushed their unprecedented national-record streak to 31 straight state titles, winning eight of 11 championship races and finishing with 386.50 points. Chesterton was second with 189.

Burchill finished a runner-up in the 100 backstroke back and contributed to relay titles in the 200 medley and 400 freestyle. Meanwhile, Emma Nordin won her third-straight state title in the 500 freestyle and touched the wall almost half a pool length ahead of the rest of the competition.

There was some disappointment, though, for Nordin, who also had her sights set on breaking a record — her own, set in the 2015 state preliminaries. She clocked a 4:45.32, less than one-fifth of a second off her previous record.

Nordin also won her second consecutive 200 freestyle title in addition to helping the Greyhounds to wins in both the 400 and 200 free relays, anchoring the latter.

“It’s my senior year,” said Nordin, who is committed to Arizona State. “It’s just exciting to be closing it off like this.”

Carmel junior Trude Rothrock, who finished second behind Nordin in the 200 free, won the 100 butterfly (52.97) while sophomore Kelly Pash won the 100 freestyle (49.41)

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