Women’s swimming has chance to set national record for most consecutive state titles


Kyle Crawford

NOT A STROKE OF LUCK: Senior Claire Adams practices her breast stroke during practice. Adams will be a member of the state team hoping to break the national record for the most consecutive state titles with its 30th consecutive state win. KYLE CRAWFORD // PHOTO


FLYING INTO A CHAMPIONSHIP: Senior Olivia Miller swims butterfly in practice. Although not every swimmer competes in the State meet, the entire team spends a nearly equal amount of time practicing and improving. SARAH LIU // PHOTO
Senior Olivia Miller swims butterfly in practice. Although not every swimmer competes in the State meet, the entire team spends a nearly equal amount of time practicing and improving.

Quietly she took her headphones from her ears, the cheer of her team a dull howl in the background. With a quick glance at her team members cheering on the sidelines, she shook out her arms and legs, stepped up on the block, breathed long and deep. At the sound of the buzzer, she executed a sleek dive into the water. At last year’s state meet, Veronica Burchill, women’s swimming and diving member, Junior World record holder and senior, opened the 400-yard freestyle relay. Last year, she, Claire Adams, Kendall Smith, women’s swimming and diving team members and seniors as well as Amy Bilquist ’15 closed the event by setting the new national record, lowering the previous record by five seconds to 3:15.38.

“When you turn your head to breathe, you can see someone waving their hand or see their face yelling. You have the coaches jumping up and down. That’s one of the most motivating things in the whole world, especially when you’re neck to neck in a race. This is what wins relays. It’s that amazing,” Adams said.

This year, the women’s swimming and diving team is en route to its 30th consecutive state championship. The record will pass the previous all-time record for most consecutive years of winning State by a high school sports team. The previous record holder was the Honolulu Punahou, men’s swimming team (1958-86) with 29 consecutive State records, which the women’s team passed last year.

At last year’s State meet, Carmel won nine of its 11 swimming events, broke national records in all three relays and finished first with 445 points, the most ever in 41 years of Indiana’s state meet history. Carmel’s 266-point margin over second-place Fishers was also a record. Counting records broken and re-broken in the same event last year, the women’s swimming and diving team set 13 state records in less than 24 hours. The Carmel Swim Team sent every swimmer from preliminaries to finals, and its 445 points represented 82 percent of the maximum 544 possible at State.

According to Burchill, the preparations for these victories are not easy. At 4:50 a.m., she prepares for the first of 10 practices and over 30 miles she’ll swim this week. The women’s swimming and diving team has four morning practices a week in addition to practice every day after school until 6 p.m., totaling 19 hours spent in the pool each week.

Chris Plumb, Carmel Girls Swimming and Diving Head Coach, said he is continuing to push the team for the upcoming State meet.

“We’ve just kept Screen Shot 2016-01-15 at 2.41.20 PMdoing what we’ve been doing. We’re just trying to get better each and everyday, making sure this team has its own identity. I think the team’s vision is to be the best they can be both in and out of the pool. To do it with class, to do it with grace, and to be able to achieve and push their physical and mental limits as well. We’re hopefully going to go into uncharted territory with an unprecedented win. 30 is the goal. Their ability to focus on a daily basis is really remarkable.”

Plumb credits the team’s success to the tradition that has been established among the team and faculty. He believes that each championship is an opportunity. Each and every year the girls stand on the shoulders of giants, he said. They are much better because of all the girls that have blazed the trail before them.

“There’s not a doubt that (winning 29 consecutive championships) is super impressive. To think that something hasn’t happened to derail (the team) is absolutely amazing. It sets a standard. It’s a high standard, but it’s never something we want to take for granted. We want to keep continuing to raise that bar every year. We’re always trying to do more and are never satisfied with where we are,” Plumb said.

According to Plumb, there are four groups that make up the CHS swim team: High Performance, Senior I, Senior II, and Greyhound. Despite the varying practice workouts and coaches that make up each group, the team is regarded as a single entity. The team bonds from pasta dinners before a meet, sharing swim caps and the never-ending smell of chlorine that follows them around.  Adams, a U.S.A. National team member agrees, she believes the sport is a team sport despite individual competition. She said there is always someone behind you and someone in front of you through the hard practices. 

“Teamwork is vital.” Adams said. “No one could do this alone. No one would practice by themselves and push themselves as hard as they do without everyone. The team is a support system; it’s an avenue for them to make us better. We compete against each other. There’s also that emotional support too, going through the challenging and difficult practices together.”

Plumb said when there are multiple people in the same position they end up loving the sport more because everyone is striving towards one goal.

Burchill places additional emphasis on the team aspect of the sport. She believes the ability to swim with everyone, with people in front of you and people behind you, is more motivation to swim harder, faster and for the team.

“This goes to show that when women come together and they unite and they become teammates, there’s a stronger bond there. They struggle through things as a team, as a united force to be reckoned with. Each and every year, they become that much stronger,” Plumb  said. “I view (the team) as an opportunity to show the world that when women are united, they can do amazing things.”