South girls swimming moves on to State

The+swim+team+celebrates+in+the+Columbus+North+pool+after+winning+Sectionals+on+February+6%2C+2021.+Photo+credit%3A+Allie+Arnold.

The swim team celebrates in the Columbus North pool after winning Sectionals on February 6, 2021. Photo credit: Allie Arnold.

Lizzie Allen, Editor

The South girls swim team is state-bound once again. After a dominating performance and a sixth win in six years at sectionals last Saturday, the team will head to Indianapolis next weekend, February 12 and 13, to take on the top swimmers in the state. 

The whole season hasn’t been as easy as winning sectionals was, however, as Covid wreaked havoc on practices, meets, and the team overall. Because of Covid, there was no summer training for the swim team. Individuals were left to their own devices, which meant that going into the season, the swimmers were at very different places in their training. 

“Everyone did their own thing with swimming over the summer because of Covid, some people swam with a club, some swam on their own, and some just didn’t swim at all. So there was definitely a lot of uncertainty going into the season this year,” said senior Sydney Anderson. 

Thus, no one was totally sure of what to expect when the season started. The team has been historically good, so wins at conference and sectionals were pretty certain. But beyond that? A big ol’ question mark. An extra wrinkle that Covid threw in, besides shaking up summer training, was making growing together as a team trickier than in years past. Coherence is one of the most important things that a team can have, but when team bonding has to happen from six feet apart with masks on, that makes things more difficult. It meant no sleepovers, no team meals, no hanging out. But they got past it.

“We managed to get really close… through talking at practice and spending a lot of time together at the pool,” said senior Allie Arnold. “We ended up being really close and having a lot of fun.”

And based off of their performance at sectionals, talking at practice and spending time together at the pool served them just fine. South finished with 458 ½ points, 101 ½ more than the second place finisher, Bloomington North. In addition to the team having a fantastic performance, individual athletes blew it out of the water, too, so to speak. 

Anderson won gold in the 50 freestyle, and Arnold reeled in a silver and bronze finish in the 200 freestyle and 100 freestyle, respectively. Sophomore Alex Eakin took gold in the 500 freestyle, freshman Chloe Talbert took gold in the 100 breaststroke, and junior Kristina Paegle kept on winning medals and setting records in nearly every event she was in. She broke her own school and sectional record in the 200 freestyle on her way to winning gold, and set a new sectional record in the 100 free, also on her way to winning gold. And although she has the potential to break the state records for both events next weekend, she’s going into the competition with a low-key attitude. 

“I am expecting to do my best and perform better than last year, and to just enjoy the moment with my team,” Paegle said. 

Arnold feels the same, although she is less sure of what to expect in Indianapolis, as this will be her first trip to state. 

“It feels really great to know that all my hard work has paid off, and it’s really special that I can finish off my high school swimming career in such a fun way.” 

And after an uncertain season and lots of hard work all around, the trip to state will be special for the whole team, as they hope to bring home more gold from the bigger stage.