INDIANAPOLIS – On display at the finals of the 45th annual IHSAA swimming and diving state championship Saturday was everything that makes Carmel’s girls program the finest in the United States.
En route to capturing the 33rd-straight state title at the IUPUI Natatorium, the Greyhounds showed both individual brilliance and depth, completing a season that had more than a few twists and turns.
The Greyhounds ran up 413 points to claim the title. So dominant were the winners that the runner-up and third-place point-totals (167.5 and 165) combined wouldn’t have beaten Carmel.
Carmel did it by winning all three relays (the 200 medley and 400 freestyle for the 11th-straight year), by taking three individual event victories and by placing at least two swimmers in the top eight in each event, except for diving and the 100 breaststroke.
“It’s always tough to swim faster (in the finals) than in the (Friday) prelims,” said coach Chris Plumb, who has now guided the program to its last 13 state championships. “But, almost everyone did. The way we performed (Saturday), it was just a lot of great swims.”
The greatest swims came from senior Kelly Pash — who took home four first-place medals to give her 12 for her career — and fellow senior Kendra Bowen.
Pash won the 200 IM (1:58.54) and 100 butterfly (:52.89), while also swimming legs of the winning 200 medley and 400 free relays.
The 12 career state medals isn’t a program-best — recent graduates Claire Adams (16) and Veronica Burchill (15) had more — but that total puts her in elite company.
And, for the University of Texas recruit, it never got ho-hum.
“There is always something different to remember,” Pash said. “Every race is different, the competition is different and there is something exciting about racing every single time.”
When Pash talks about things being different, she knows of what she speaks. She was a two-time 100 freestyle state champ and also won the 200 freestyle a year ago, but moved to different events this season. Even on the 200 medley relay, she switched from the freestyle leg to the breaststroke this season. She joined Madelyn Christman, Meredith Berglund and Colleen Duffy to win in 1:41.39.
“I was thrown off at first when I was asked to switch events,” Pash said, “but it was a chance to do something different and great. I was confident and excited to see what I could do.”
“I knew she would be up to the challenge,” Plumb said of Pash. “She was like our Swiss army knife. She can do it all.”
Despite taking Pash out of the 200 freestyle, the Greyhounds still took first, second and fourth in the event. Bowen won the event in 1:47.67, with teammate Ashlyn Underhill next at 1:48.16. Freshman Gretchen Lueking placed fourth in 1:50.14
Bowen, Duffy, Lueking and Avery Williams won the 200 free relay in 1:33.17 and Pash, Lueking, Christman and Underhill combined for a 3:20.82 clocking in the 400 free relay. Pash led off with a blazing :48.73 leg to pretty much clinch the race.
Franklin barely held on to second place, just ahead of Fishers and Fort Wayne Carroll — each with 165 points.