by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Courtney Grunewald and Ali Schwab both set team records during state Class AA swimming preliminaries Friday, and Grunewald earned a spot on the medal stand as well.
The two Elk River juniors who’ve gone to state together three straight years now led a solid effort by the Elks/Rogers contingent. All five entrants will score points (top 16) at the U of M Aquatic Center on Saturday.
“Everyone swam their best,” said coach Colleen Killpatrick, “and everyone’s coming back for the second day.”
Grunewald tied the second-oldest record on the Elks board with 57.40 in the 100 butterfly. She had the fifth-best prelim time to earn a berth in the championship heat Saturday evening. Grunewald also placed 10th in the individual medley with 2:08.90. Her section times were 57.71 and 2:09.92.
“I’m excited. I hope I can cut another point-oh-one tomorrow and break it,” said Grunewald, referring to the team record set by Colleen Morgan in 1999. “I’m shooting for top three.”
Grunewald medaled at state last year in another event, backstroke, placing sixth.
Schwab didn’t make championship finals but her 1:06.91 in the 100 breaststroke placed 10th in prelims and broke Tracy Wormwood’s team record of 1:07.12 set in 2008. Schwab will swim in the consolation heat in the breaststroke and 50 freestyle, where she placed 13th with 24.54. Her section times were 24.58 and 1:08.15.
The 5-foot-11 swimmer had 1:07.23 at state as a freshman, placing eighth, but slipped to 16th last year with 1:09.5. She came back strong in both her events.
“I am real excited to break that 1:07 from two years ago,” said Schwab. “I really wanted to get that record … In the 50, I dropped a lot of time at section and even more at state.”
Schwab said two weeks of tapering before sectionals and state helped, as it’s supposed to.
“I like to swim the first 50 (in breaststroke) as fast as I can and see if I can hold it, ” said Schwab, “and usually tapering allows me to hold it.”
The Elks’ other entry, the medley relay team of Emma Johnson, Schwab Grunewald and Taylor Odegard, placed 15th with 1:51.95, not bad considering their section time was 17th among 25 entrants.
Odegard is a freshman in her second state meet, both in relays. Johnson is a seventh-grader.
“My first year (with Elks) has been awesome,” said Johnson, adding that she’s swum for “six or seven years.”
Jessica Young of Rogers clipped a couple seconds off her PB in the Class A 200 freestyle in the afternoon to place 10th with 1:58.55. Young, who’s an Elk during the regular season, moved up from her 13th seed, and will swim in the consolation heat.
The Elk record that Schwab broke was one of only two remaining on the board from pre-2000. The longest-standing record is Jodel Fesenmeyer’s 52.60 in the 100 freestyle set in 1997.
Schwab got herself on the record board for the first time. Grunewald has been on it since eighth grade when she helped the medley relay set a record that stills stands.