Between deep breaths of recovery, Corydon Central’s Gracie Saulman didn’t shy away from smiling wide after peeking the timing board following a dominating swim in the 100-yard freestyle.
At Saturday’s Floyd Central Sectional in girls’ swimming, at Highland Hills Middle School, Saulman turned in two monstrous individual performances in the pool. First, Saulman conquered the 200 individual medley in 2:04.44 then turned around to dominate the 100 free in 51.50 seconds. Both stood as not only school records, but also new meet marks.
‘It was an amazing feeling,’ Saulman said after the freestyle swim. ‘I didn’t have a good year last year, and I wanted to come back and finish strong. I wanted to leave it all in the pool and do the best I can.’
It’s the last go-round in the sectional for the senior, who will swim at Ball State University next season. Becoming a four-time state qualifier in high school didn’t come without fighting off obstacles before Saturday.
‘I actually had bronchitis last week, so I was nervous about this weekend and what would happen,’ she said. ‘I’m so happy it turned out like this. This is exactly what I wanted.’
To reach state, swimmers must place first in sectional or meet the state standard time.
In the individual medley, Saulman got off to a quick start. Turning to the backstroke, she could sense Floyd Central’s Lauren Thompson catching up. The third leg of the medley, the breaststroke, is where Saulman started to put some distance on the competition. Coming home in the freestyle discipline, Saulman swam home three seconds ahead of Thompson.
‘Lauren is an amazing swimmer,’ Saulman said. ‘We swim for the same club team, and I know she’s fast. She’s faster at backstroke than me, so I could kind of see her arms in the backstroke start to line up with me. When we got to the breaststroke, I knew I had to go.’
Saulman returned to the water for the 100 free and put in another jaw-dropping performance. Again, a winner by three seconds, Saulman completed the event in 51.50 seconds.
‘I’ve been stuck on 52.0 forever,’ she said of her personal best. ‘I needed to do it here. In the water, I felt fast today so I knew I could do it … I knew I had to go out in a certain time to come back home. That was the time I wanted, and I knew I had to get out in front.’
Saulman was presented the first-place ribbon in each event by her parents. Posting those times were proof the work had paid off.
‘I just trained a lot more,’ she said. ‘I’ve been lifting weights more. I’ve been putting so much more into getting where I want to be. I’ve been more consistent in the weight room and in the pool.’
Saulman also was part of the Lady Panthers’ 200-medley relay team that finished third behind Jeffersonville (1:50.17) and Floyd Central. The Lady Panthers turned in a school-record time of 2:00.75 with Melissa King, Erica Wood, Emily Wiseman and Saulman taking a turn at each portion of the relay.
‘We were all really excited to set a new record in the medley,’ Saulman said.
The Corydon Central foursome of Gracia Swords, King, Saulman and Wiseman also had a school-record swim in the 200-freestyle relay, going in 1:47.50 for fourth place. They were seven seconds behind winner Jeffersonville.
With the prelims swam on Thursday, Corydon Central and North Harrison were able to place individuals in finals on Saturday.
North Harrison’s Maddy Marinc kept a steady pace in the 500 free before taking off at the end. The Lady Cats’ junior closed to finish the distance event in 5:43.41, a new school record, for sixth place.
‘I swam with the girl in lane seven the whole time,’ said Marinc, who was in lane eight. ‘We swam together in club and she’s a great friend, but I wanted to push past her. I felt like we were going back and forth, like we were having a conversation. At the end, I made a move to push through and kicked it in.’
Marinc said in the last 100, she felt there was more juice left, so she pushed with a strong late kick. The 200 free also saw Marinc reach the final. She went in 2:09.05 in the race, earning seventh place along with setting a school record.
‘I do (Riverside Aquataic Club) which is year-round, so I am never really out of the sport,’ said Marinc. ‘All my teammates pushed me every single day at practice. The thing is, I love swim and, when you love something, you keep pushing. I push to do my best.’
Teammate Morgan Purser was in the consolations of the 200 free, placing 10th in 2:15.60. Corydon Central’s Swords was 11th in 2:16.54.
King, a junior for the Lady Panthers, swam in one event as an individual. In the 100 backstroke, King went in 1:08.33 for seventh place on the podium.
King swam in all three relay events, also being part of the school record-setting performance in the 400-freestyle relay. She swam with Jaylee Rowland, Erica Wood and Swords in 4:11.56, placing sixth among the competition. The Lady Cats sent out Alexandria Shaffer, Carly Hayse, Morgan Purser and Marinc to swim in 4:15.44, placing seventh.
North Harrison’s Brooke Comer was able to set a new school record as well. Competing in the 100 butterfly, Comer swam the prelims on Thursday in 1:07.20 to earn not only the low mark for the Lady Cats, but also qualify for the final. In the final, Comer placed eighth in 1:08.40.
Also in the fly, Wood (11th, 1:11.76) and Shaffer (1:13.21) swam in the consolations.
In the backstroke consolation, North Harrison’s Shaffer was 14th (1:13.08) while Corydon Central’s Wiseman (1:15.23) was 16th. North Harrison’s Purser was 10th in the breaststroke, going in 1:20.92.
Lanesville reached the consolations of all three relay events. The program’s best showing place-wise was 15th in the 200 free relay, with Erin Hayse, Sydney Colin, Marianne Brown and Lindsey Hayse going in a school record time of 2:18.95. The Lady Eagles also set program bests in the 200 medley relay with the same foursome swimming in 2:39.31.
Lindsey Hayse also set a school record in the 500 free with a time of 7:00.69, swam in the prelims.
The state finals will take place Friday (swimming prelims at 6 p.m.) and Saturday (consolation and finals for all events at 1 p.m.) at the Indiana University Natatorium on the campus of IUPUI in Indianapolis.
Team scores: 1. Floyd Central 487, 2. Jeffersonville 380, 3. New Albany 256, 4. Seymour 231, 5. Corydon Central 153, 6. Southwestern (Hanover) 144, 7. Jennings County 124, 8. North Harrison 118, 9. Switzerland County 89, 10. Madison 84, 11. Providence 55, 12. Scottsburg 39, 13t. Silver Creek 24, 13t. Charlestown 24, 15. Salem 20, 16. Lanesville 8, 17. Henryville 2.
Individual results: 200 medley relay ” 1. Jeffersonville (B. Dixon, S. Flora, M. McEwen, A. Miller) 1:50.17, 2. Floyd Central, 3. Corydon Central (M. King, G. Saulman, E. Wood, E. Wiseman) 2:00.75; 200 free ” 1. C. Carey (FC) 1:57.83, 2. S. Allen (FC), 3. S. Flora (Jeff); 200 IM ” 1. G. Saulman (Cory) 2:04.44, 2. L. Thompson (FC), 3. G. Allen (FC); 50 free ” 1. V. Gonzalez (Mad) 24.02, 2. G. Manger (NA); 3. S. Winternheimer (NA); 1-mtr diving ” 1. L. Scharlow (NA) 325.25, 2. N. Brooks (Prov), 3. K. Yankey (FC); 100 fly ” 1. V. Gonzalez (Mad) 58.04, 2. M. McEwen (Jeff), 3. G. Allen (FC); 100 free ” 1. G. Saulman (Cory) 51.50, 2. S. Winternheimer (NA), 3. S. Flora (Jeff); 500 free ” 1. C. Carey (FC) 5:12.02, 2. E. Perkins (FC), 3. K. Case (Jeff); 200 free relay ” 1. Jeffersonville (S. Flora, M. McEwen, M. Klaus, A. Miler) 1:40.76, 2. Floyd Central, 3. New Albany; 100 back ” 1. L. Thompson (FC) 56.62, 2. B. Dixon (Jeff), 3. M. Klaus (Jeff); 100 breast ” 1. G. Manger (NA) 1:08.04, 2. M. McEwen (Jeff), 3. K. McDonald (FC); 400 free relay ” 1. Floyd Central (C. Carey, E. Perkins, S. Allen, L. Thompson) 3:41.13.