JENNINGS County senior swimmer Vicky Suding was in tears before her 500-yard freestyle heat during the girls Hoosier Hills Conference championship meet Jan. 12.
Earlier in the day she had clocked a season-best 2:13.63 and finished seventh in the 200 freestyle and fifth in the 100 butterfly despite bulging discs in her upper back and neck.
“Before her race in the 500 freestyle, I asked her if she wanted to sit out,” head coach Bill Dillon said. “But she wanted to race. I was shocked when she blew away everyone else in her heat and swam a season-best in the 500 freestyle. She finished sixth with a time of 5:48.02. She’s teaching the younger swimmers that sometimes you’re going to have to fight through the pain and the fatigue.”
Inspired by Suding, the girls team finished fifth in the conference championship meet, placing ahead of Columbus East, Bedford North Lawrence and Madison. Swimming before a crowd of at least 400 people at their home pool also helped the team.
“We hadn’t hosted a conference championship meet since the boys hosted one in 2009,” Dillon said. “I’d never seen so many people in our stands. It was standing room only.”
Dillon and his teams know that the meet that matters most is the sectional meet at Bedford North Lawrence.
Both teams have won more than 10 dual meets, but they aren’t satisfied.
“We don’t want to grade this season until the sectional,” Dillon said. “That would be like getting your grade before the final exam. That’s what everything has been leading up to and what we’ve been working for. In some ways, we’ve exceeded my expectations. Our freshmen and sophomores are further along than I thought they’d be, and we’ve won most of the meets that we should have.”
Jennings County’s Katelyn Posey finished second in the diving portion of the HHC Championships, with Posey setting an 11-dive school record with a total score of 349.75. Posey also just missed breaking Lauren Chilman’s six-dive school record.
“She was disappointed that she finished second,” Dillon said. “She wanted to win a conference title. She didn’t even know that she’d broken the 11-dive school record, and that made her feel a little better.
“Posey’s very driven and focused. Our diving coach, Kim Shepherd, challenges our divers not to stick with same dives, so they can increase their scores. Our drivers respect him, and I joke with him that he could take a kid who’d never dove and he’d have him diving 11 dives in the
Dillon hopes that more school records fall in the sectional because he knows his teams are motivated to shatter them.
“We’re really close on the 200 medley relay,” he said. “We just need to drop three-quarters of a second on each heat to break it. The boys relay teams could also break some records. I think we could set as many as seven new records at sectional. Our teams are motivated, and they know what to do because I’ve been working with most of them for three to four years.”