Red Devil Swimmers Hoping to Climb to Top of the Mountain

The sky's the limit for Hinsdale Central, which has nearly everyone returning from last season's state-qualifying team that finished sixth.

Graduation took only two seniors from the Red Devils girls swim team—a group that finished sixth at state in 2010 and recorded all-state finishes in every relay event and two individual events.

That’s the good news, but it comes with a caveat: The New Triers, Loyolas and Rosaries of the state prep swimming world, as well as other top teams, didn’t lose many seniors, either. In fact, last year’s state meet was dominated by juniors (now this year’s seniors).

Still, the Red Devils have to be included among those teams in the mix for a team title at state. Hinsdale Central’s highest finish in recent years was a tie for second place in 2008. The Red Devils last won a state championship in 1993.

But there’s an entire season to go, plus the all-important sectionals, before the Red Devils can take aim at state titles—be they team or individual.

“Sectionals is the meet where you have to get it done,” said Hinsdale Central coach Bob Barber. “We don’t really care about our actual performance there. We could get fifth (as a team) in the meet and get everyone through (to state), we’d be happy.

“It’s going to be extremely competitive state field,” he added. “It’s going to come down to the little things. It’s going to come down to who’s got the best relay exchanges and turns that day.”

Setting the pace for the talent-rich Red Devils once again are seniors Genna Heidkamp and Jen Coady.

Heidkamp cruised to a third-place finish in the state 100-yard butterfly last year, and will be among the favorites to win the event this time around. Illustrating how dominant her class was in 2010, the top six placewinners in the butterfly will be back, barring injuries or unexpected dropoffs in performance.

“She’s hungry and she’s excited,” Barber said. “Without a doubt, I think it’s (a state crown) in the back of both of our minds. I know it’s something that she wants to shoot for, and it’s an extremely attainable goal. I think she put in a great summer to get herself ready for that, and really, it’s going to come down to the little things for her.”

Coady, the school record-holder in the 200 individual medley, earned all-state honors with a ninth-place finish last season. She and Heidkamp competed in each relay event at the 2010 meet. Right behind Coady is classmate Lindsay Pavich, who owns the second-fastest IM time in school history.

Senior Hannah Lillioja, meanwhile, was 11th at state in the 100 backstroke and also qualified for state in the 100 butterfly.

“She’s come to a point where she can really get after things,” Barber said.

Barber is hoping seniors Kristen Worthington and Abbey King, both of whom qualified for state in the 500 freestyle as sophomores, regain their form after missing the cut last season.

“If I get my 500 girls back that I had two years ago, I think they’ve got a chance (to place at state),” Barber said. “They are, without a doubt, two talented girls that push each other.”

Red Devil nation will be anticipating all-state performances once again from their relay squads, each of which has earned National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association all-American status.

Heidkamp and Coady team up with juniors Olivia Garrett and Kerry Grosshans in the 200 freestyle relay, which earned Hinsdale Central’s highest place last year (fifth) among its relay squads.

Two all-senior quartets swim on the Red Devils’ 400 and 200 freestyle relays. Heidkamp, Coady, Worthington and Fontini Kaufman were members of the 400 squad that placed sixth at state in 2010, while Heidcamp, Coady, Lillioja and Pavich earned a state medal in the 200 (eighth place).

“I do believe all three relays have a nice chance of swimming (in the state finals) on Saturday,” Barber said. “I believe we’ll be swimming on Saturday. It’s a question of whether we’ll be in the big heat or whether we’ll be in consolations. A lot of that is going to pan out on how well we can perform because we can’t control everybody else.”

In the 1-meter diving competition, freshman Margie McCarthy joins the Marano sisters--Maxx, a senior; Marley, a sophomore; and Toni, a freshman.


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