If everything goes according to plan, Rachel Sabotin will make the podium twice Saturday at the Girls Swimming State Finals.
The Columbus resident and Trinity Lutheran junior enters Friday’s prelims at IUPUI’s Indiana University Natatorium seeded fifth in the 200-yard individual medley and seventh in the 500 freestyle.
Last week at the Columbus North Sectional, Sabotin won the 500 freestyle in 4 minutes, 56.69 seconds and the 200 IM in 2:03.68.
"I’m very excited to see what I can do," Sabotin said. "This year, I’m seeded top eight in my events. I haven’t done that so far, so hopefully, I can get on the podium both times and represent Trinity."
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Sabotin is no stranger to the big stage.
Last year, she finished 10th in the 200 freestyle (1:52.08) and fourth in the 500 freestyle (4:57.83). As a freshman, Sabotin swam to a 10th-place finish in the 500 freestyle and was 17th in the 200 freestyle.
The 200 IM is a new postseason event for Sabotin. She decided to make the change after a wildly successful summer and winter season in the event.
"I would say this season, we have trained more in the IM than we have in past seasons," Sabotin said. "We are always training for distances, but we’ve really been focusing more on different strokes, too, since last summer. Last year, I got the sectional record in the 200 free, so this year, I wanted to try a new one. I had a great time drop this weekend, which I was really happy with. I saw some things I can change up, too, so hopefully, it will be a great thing."
In August, Sabotin, a member of the Columbus-based Club Olympia swim team, swam in the junior nationals in Irvine, California, after winning the 400 IM at the Indiana Senior State Championships.
Sabotin was seeded 13th heading into the meet and moved up to the top seed after posting the fastest prelim time.
At the time, she was one of only two athletes who qualified at the Indiana Senior State Championships that were younger than 17. Sabotin finished 46th in the 400 IM and 53rd in the 200 butterfly at nationals.
This winter, Sabotin, who is coached by former Olympian Jennifer Brinegar, continued to swim with some of the best in USA Swimming.
She also competed in both the 2018 Winter National Championships and East Speedo Winter Juniors in Greensboro, North Carolina, in December.
At the Winter National Championships, Sabotin was star-struck. The competition featured swimmers the likes of Olympic gold medalist Katie Ledecky.
Sabotin swam the long course 200 butterfly and 400 IM. She placed 41st of 43 in 2:21.61 in the 200 fly and 39th of 39 in the 400 IM (5:11.59).
At the East Speedo Winter Juniors, Sabotin swam four events. She was 112th in the 200 IM, 79th in the 500 freestyle and 42nd in both the 400 IM and 200 butterfly.
"I did pretty well in both of those," Sabotin said. "Winter nationals was awesome. That was a long course meet. That was to get the experience of a national meet in. People like Katie Ledecky were next to you. It was like, ‘Oh my goodness, I’m not worthy of swimming next to you.’ In the Winter Juniors, all the kids were my age, so it was back down to my level a little bit. They both went really well and are something to look forward to next year."
During the high school season, Sabotin has worked hard on multiple events.
"The regular season was great. We had four or five meets, so much less than a normal schedule," Sabotin said. "It was still fun to get to know some of those teams. I’ve tried to do one event every meet during the season to mix it up. I was really happy with that."
While she’s the only girl on Trinity’s swim team, Sabotin has continued to push herself during practices at Northside Middle School.
"Going to these bigger meets, nationals last summer and winter nationals and juniors in December, seeing the amount of kids that are at the same level or faster pushes me," Sabotin said. "My coach is really great. She has goal times for me. Little things like that, remembering there are girls that are faster than me in this state, helps me work toward getting faster."
Sabotin’s taper for state started Wednesday. She said she didn’t have much rest going into sectional.
"For the 200 IM, I’m hoping to drop a couple more seconds. I want to see what I can do since it’s the first year," she said. "In the 500 free, I was fourth last year, so I’m hoping to climb up the podium. In sectional for the 500, I cruised a little bit. I’m hoping to have a big time drop at state.
"There aren’t really any nerves right now. I’m sure there will be a couple leading up to the race. Right now, I’m just really excited to see what I can do, especially since I’m doing a new event."
Sabotin said she has received multiple NCAA Division I offers and has started narrowing down her list of colleges.
"I’m hoping to be committed somewhere by the end of my junior year," she said. "I have my top-10 schools."
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Girls Swimming and Diving State Finals
When: 6 p.m. Friday (swimming prelims), 9 a.m. Saturday (diving prelims and semifinals), 1 p.m. Saturday (swimming and diving finals)
Where: IUPUI’s Indiana University Natatorium, 901 W. New York St., Indianapolis
Admission: $8 per session or $15 for both days
Local competitors: Columbus North’s Olivia Morlok (200 freestyle and 500 freestyle); Betsy King (50 freestyle and 100 freestyle); Erica Samuel (500 freestyle) and King, Riddhi Garg, Samuel and Morlok (200 freestyle relay); Trinity Lutheran’s Rachel Sabotin (200 individual medley and 500 freestyle)