OPRF, Fenwick swimmers shine at state meet

Drumm 5th in 50 free; OPRF freshman sets 500 free school record

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By James Kay

Sports Editor

After both programs dominated at sectionals last week, Fenwick's swimming team and Oak Park and River Forest's swimming and diving teams made their way to state on Nov. 22-23.

Fenwick's Katie Drumm made the most out of her third and final time going to state as a Friar. She placed fifth in the 50-yard freestyle (in the preliminary round before placing fourth in the finals the next day.

What makes Drumm's finish even more impressive is that, according to head coach Rene Miller, this was first time she swam the 50 free (23.30 seconds) at the state meet.

"She's had two years of getting on the block, being under that kind of pressure and knowing what to expect," said Miller. "She did an incredible job, and we are proud of her."

Fenwick placed 13th in the 200 medley relay during the preliminaries and didn't make the cut to advance to the finals. In order to move on to the next round, the team needed to crack the top 12 in order to qualify for the finals.

The 200-yard freestyle relay and 400-yard free relay teams also didn't place within the top 12; they finished 21st and 27th respectively. 

As a freshman, OPRF's Alex Mitchell placed 10th in the 500-yard freestyle in the finals with a time of 5 minutes, 3.62 seconds, but she broke the OPRF school record in the 500 free with a time of 4:58.37 during the preliminaries. Mitchell also set the school's freshman record for 200-yard freestyle during the preliminaries with a time of 1:52.96, placing 13th.

"It really is a testament of how hard she works and how talented she is," said OPRF coach Clyde Lundgren. "We are really happy for her, and she really stepped up."

The rest of OPRF's swim team didn't make it past the preliminaries, as OPRF's Sara Segal placed 28th in the 100-yard breaststroke and the 200-yard freestyle relay team finished 20th.

As for OPRF's diving team, senior Yasmin Ruff made the most at her time at New Trier, placing eighth in the finals. This was her fourth time advancing to the state championships. It was the best finish for an OPRF diver since diving coach Mark Pappalardo took over in 2008.

"Our goal from the start of the season was for her to be in the top 12," said Pappalardo. "This had been her goal for four years, and she did what she needed to do. It was a great way for her to top off her career."

Pappalardo credits Ruff's commitment to working on more complicated dives for her performance at state. She is also an all-state pole vaulter which contributes to her elite level body control.

"This year, she added a much harder twisting dive that really paid off for us at the end because, not only was it a difficult dive to do, but she really could execute it very well," said Pappalardo. "Her spatial awareness from pole vaulting helps her with diving. So when she tried some more complicated dives, she was able to hone them in a week or two, and she's been able to compete at a high level."

OPRF's Abigail Gibbs also qualified out of the sectional round for diving. She placed 44th in the preliminaries.

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