Riverside-Brookfield High School sophomore Hailey Vlcek got to compete twice in the 200-yard freestyle as she hoped by advancing to the championship finals at the IHSA girls swimming and diving championships at the FMC Natatorium in Westmont on Nov. 11-12.
With that, Vlcek made program history.
Vlcek became the Bulldogs’ first top-six all-state swimmer when she finished fourth with time of 1:52.30.
“I still haven’t wrapped my mind around everything that’s happened in the last week and a half,” Vlcek said. “It’s really cool, just thinking about it. It was a really fun experience. I’m so happy to be here. I’m really excited for next year. I love high school season.”
Vlcek also tied the program’s highest state finish by the other two all-staters in diving – Amy Downing in 1980 and Robin Duffy in 1977 and 1975.
In the Nov. 11 preliminaries, Vlcek (1:52.17) gained the sixth and final berth in the championship finals by 0.34 seconds but moved up to fourth in the finals. Seeded in an outside lane, Vlcek was sixth at the halfway point (55.44) but had the second-fastest final 50 yards (28.23).
Vlcek also was 17th in the preliminary heats of the 500 free (5:08.60), her second-fastest time ever.
“It was pretty different [in the finals], because I only had to do the one event, but I also knew how important it was,” Vlcek said.
This season, Vlcek set all-time school records for the 200 free (1:51.78), 100 butterfly (59.14) and 200 individual medley (2:10.00) and the sophomore record for the 500 free (5:07.58).
“I’ve been very good this season about not getting myself so worked up whenever I’m about to swim. Freshman year, I’d say I was a lot more nervous,” Vlcek said.
Perhaps her biggest takeaway is gratitude, especially after last season being 13th in the 200 free at state (1:52.71), .32 from the consolation final.
“I’m just grateful for everything I’ve been able to do this season, all of the meets, the people I’ve gotten to bond with. [For state] I can look at how far I’ve come and just being able to be there and compete. Just go out and do what you do and what you’ve been training for all season.”
LTHS relays pave way to 9th place
Senior Maggie Adler saved her greatest performances with the Lyons Township girls swimming and diving team during the IHSA state meet preliminaries on Nov. 11.
The Illinois recruit made some of her best memories during the state finals the following afternoon.
Adler was part of all three top-six, all-state performances at the FMC Natatorium in Westmont that helped the Lions place ninth (50 points).
Adler, senior Becky Phillips and sophomores Audrey Cavaliere and Ella Jean Kelly were fifth in the 200-yard freestyle relay (1:34.87) and sixth in the 400 free relay (3:28.55). Junior Amelia Mariano helped the 200 free relay advance during the prelim heats.
Individually, Adler was fifth in the 200 free (1:52.67) following a lifetime-best 1:51.35 in the prelims, which carried her to the championship final from the No. 8 seed based on sectional results.
“It’s definitely something I’m going to remember for the rest of my life, especially with a team that I love so much,” Adler said.
In 2021, Adler, Phillips and Mariano received consolation state finals experience, placing 10th in the 200 free relay with Cavaliere and 11th in the 400 free relay.
The 200 medley relay received consolation state finals experience as freshmen Kylie Thompson, Dylan Jorgensen and Lindsay Forebaugh with Cavaliere finished 11th (1:47.36).
“Walking out of the meet, I said to myself, ‘Wow. We actually got every single drop out of every single drop of effort. There wasn’t anything else to give emotionally, mentally and physically,’” LTHS coach Scott Walker said. “From a coach’s standpoint, you can’t be more proud than to be able to say that.”
Even what could have been disappointed Adler Friday was uplifting. She tied for the 12th and final qualifying spot in the 100 free with Lane senior Anastazja Szukala (52.18) and the two had a swimoff roughly 30 minutes after preliminaries ended. Szukala won 51.41 to 51.75 to advance, but Adler’s time was a lifetime best and under 52 seconds for the first time.
Among non-qualifiers, Cavaliere was 13th in the 50 free (23.58), Forebaugh was 14th in 100 butterfly (57.22), Phillips was 16th in the 200 individual medley (2:07.34), freshman and first-time diver Tess Walker was 24th (192.90) and Mariano was 33rd in the 50 free (24.32).
These were the Lions’ first all-state performances since 2019.
“Our program’s super young so I hope all of the younger swimmers are motivated to follow in this year’s footsteps and even further,” Adler said. “I also hope that they have fun doing it.”