Records are made to be broken, and that’s why it wasn’t a great day Saturday for one of the best female swimmers in Evanston history.
ETHS juniors Honore Collins and Ana Woods took turns knocking former state champion Julia Quinn out of the record book with victories at the Niles North Sectional qualifying meet.
Collins captured top honors in the 200-yard individual medley and Woods won the 100-yard breaststroke, providing the highlights as the Wildkits earned 7 individual qualifying berths and also advanced all three relay teams to next week’s Illinois High School Association state meet at Evanston’s Burton Aquatic Center.
Evanston scored 171 team points and placed third in the 14-team field behind only Loyola Academy (255) and New Trier (219). The list of individual state qualifiers for the Wildkits included divers Kate Budde and Andrea Gouvea; Iana Wolff in the 100 butterfly; and Paige Haden and Collins in the 100 backstroke.
Collins crushed the IM record of 2 minutes, 7.01 seconds set by Quinn in 2002 with a winning time of 2:06.39. She won Saturday’s race by almost two full seconds over Nicole Retondo of New Trier (2:08.24) following a regular season in which she was one of the hardest workers in the pool on a daily basis for the Kits.
Her search for perfection in all 4 strokes — backstroke, butterfly, breaststroke and freestyle — found the junior standout matching up with the best competitors on the squad in an effort to get better in practice.
“There are so many strokes in the IM and that means there are so many things you can improve on,” Collins said. “I think my biggest improvements have come in the fly and the breaststroke. I did focus on my actual stroke in the breaststroke, and in the fly I started going out faster and building from there.
“It feels really good to get that record. I’m surprised to beat it by that much, though.”
Head coach Kevin Auger wasn’t surprised.
“The way Honore has been training so hard, it wasn’t really a big surprise,” said the veteran coach. “That was a big time drop for her today (3 seconds off her previous best), and I honestly she still has more to give in that event.
“Honore has worked so hard and she’s everybody’s training partner (in the 4 strokes). The biggest bonus this year is that she just goes so hard in every race. She’s got good training partners in every stroke, and they help each other get better.”
Woods erased Quinn’s previous breaststroke mark of 1:04.61 with her winning performance of 1:04.59, the third fastest time statewide Saturday at all 16 sectional meets. She was the first to touch the wall in a star-studded field that featured 7 others advancing to State by beating the established qualifying standard.
“That’s a full second faster than Ana’s ever been before,” Auger pointed out. “She had a really good split in the medley relay (28.96) and that race was the catalyst for everything that followed for us today.”
Woods wasn’t sure even at the conclusion of the race if she had surpassed Quinn’s record. The crowd reaction ended any doubt.
“I looked and saw the 1:04, but I wasn’t sure about the other part of the number,” she said. “I felt kinda intimidated after Honore did so well in the IM, but it also made me want to try more, too. And when I heard everyone screaming after the race, I knew I did it. It was very exciting to get that record.
“I’d look at our (ETHS) record board every day in practice to see how much time I should be dropping. Last year I didn’t drop at all during the high school season in the breaststroke, only during the club season. I went to a breaststroke camp at Kenyon College over the summer and worked on a lot of drills with my hips. I know it looks funny sometimes — but it paid off.”
Woods and Collins were also a part of a near-record effort for the runnerup 200-yard medley relay team. They teamed with Haden and Wolff for a time of 1:45.75 in that race, only .70 seconds off the school record established in 2007. Loyola posted a winning time of 1:45.44 on Saturday.
Evanston also advanced in the 200 freestyle relay as Wolff, Woods, Millie Rosen and Maddy Managlia earned sixth place with a qualifying time of 1:38.47.
In the 400 relay, the foursome of Wolff, Collins, Rosen and Woods placed third in 3:34.32, a full 5 seconds quicker than their seed time.
Divers Budde (7th with 422.20 points) and Gouvea (9th with 394.60 points) qualified as at-large divers under the new scoring criteria this season. Wolff’s season-best time of 57.62 placed 5th in the butterfly; and Haden and Collins were 3rd and 4th, respectively, in the backstroke with times of 57.73 and 58.14.
Among Evanston’s non-qualifiers, both senior Mia Polinski (7th in 2:13.65 in the IM) and freshman Kathleen Donati (7th in 5:20.56 in the 500 freestyle) came closest to advancing.
The state preliminaries will open Friday at ETHS with the state finals set for a noon start on Saturday at ETHS.