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No matter the outcome of this weekend’s IHSA Girls State Swim Meet, the Fenwick girls swim team has already had quite a memorable season.

With the death of Dave Perry – Fenwick’s beloved director of aquatics – due to cancer in early September, the emotionally drained Friars could have gone straight downhill. Instead, they persevered, and pulled off a monumental 95-75 upset of Rosary, a program that hadn’t lost a dual match in 11 years. The victory motivated the Friars to improve on last season’s fifth place finish at state.

But then the team’s home pool was closed by the Illinois Department of Public Health for not being in compliance with a new safety law pertaining to drains. The team was forced to spend four weeks on the road, practicing and competing.

Back comfortably in their own pond on Saturday, the Friars proved that another obstacle wasn’t going to stand in the way of their goal of finishing first and qualifying as many swimmers downstate as possible. Fenwick won the sectional with 332 points, while cross-town rival OPRF finished second with 267 and Lane Tech rounded out third with 215. 

The Friars took first in eight events, including all three relays. Mimi Schneider, Paulina Kaminski, Haley Wickham and Maureen Barron scored a new pool record in the 200-yard freestyle relay with a time of 1:37.15. Along with Maggie Sheean, Wickham, Schneider and Barron also set a pool record in the 200 medley relay (1:46.63). Wickham and Kaminski also set team records in the 100-yard breaststroke, timing out at 1:04.61 and 1:04.88, respectively.

Schneider, a sophomore, also qualified for state in the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 55.03 seconds. Other state qualifiers included Cara Borkovec (second, 100 free, 52.95), Veronica Gibson (second, 100 butterfly, 58.10; second, 500 free, 5:10.33) and Maureen and Colleen Barron, who finished first (23.84) and second (24.40) respectively in the 50-yard freestyle.  

“This was a great meet overall, and we’re looking forward to next week,” said head coach Renee Miller. “We know that [this weekend] there will be a lot of stiff competition, but [the team] has worked hard and is prepared.”