Lindsey Bruce was thrilled after earning some hardware in last year’s IHSA Springfield Sectional at Eisenhower Pool.
The Alton High swimmer received medals in three events, placing third in the 100-yard butterfly and helping the 200-yard medley relay team finish third and 200-yard freestyle relay team place fourth.
“It was really cool,” Bruce said. “I didn’t expect to do that good.”
Now, Bruce, a senior, is setting her sights on qualifying for the state meet in her final year with the Alton swimming team. She and the Redbirds will compete in the Edwardsville Sectional on Saturday at the Chuck Fruit Aquatic Center.
The 36-team meet will start at 10 a.m. with the diving competition, followed by the swim competition at 1 p.m. There are 12 events in the sectional and the top finisher in each event advances to the state meet Nov. 17-18 at New Trier High School in Winnetka.
“I’m really excited because it’s my last year,” Bruce said. “It’s going to be very bittersweet, but I’m really excited. I hope to do better than last year.”
Joining Bruce at sectionals will be senior Nikki Lowe, juniors Jenna Fleming, Abby Powers, Claire Pohlman, sophomores Rachel Paule and Grace Stobbs and freshman Mia Eickhoff. Most of them swim for the Summers-Port swimming club in the summer and for the Tri-City Area Tidalwaves year around.
“Summers-Port really helps because in the winter and in the summer, we have the same coach, Nancy (Miller),” Bruce said. “She’s really good with keeping us active in the summer because in our sectional, you have a shorter amount of time to train for it than the boys because the boys are in the spring.”
The Marquette Catholic Explorers also will compete in Saturday’s sectional. They also have eight swimmers; seven are freshmen.
Junior Sarah St. John and freshmen Emma Menke, Emma Anselm, Kiley Donovan, Claire Rodgers, Claire Spain, Rachel Heinz, and Anna Rodgers make up the Marquette squad. St. John competed in last year’s sectionals.
“They’re doing it for the fun and the experience and they enjoy swimming in the summer, so hopefully this will be a fun experience for them,” first-year Marquette coach Jennifer Roth said.
The Explorers will make their second trip to Edwardsville in nine days on Saturday. They competed at the Southern Illinois High School Championships there on Nov. 2 and placed fourth out of five teams with 151 points.
Fleming, who was coming off a strong golf season this fall that included her first trip to sectionals, said she’s looking forward to swimming at Edwardsville’s pool on Saturday.
“I like it better than Springfield’s because it’s bigger and it’s faster,” she said.
Both the Redbirds and Explorers don’t have year-round swimming teams, so they’re not eligible for team scores at sectionals.
In last year’s sectionals, Alton finished with medals in four events and scored 113 points, which could have been good for sixth place.
Edwardsville won the sectional with 230 points. Springfield was second with 206, O’Fallon came in third with 140, Sacred Heart-Griffin was in fourth with 134, and Glenwood was fifth with 129.
“Any time we can compete against them and place in the top three or four, it’s a great thing for our program because we don’t have the numbers as far as the swimming teams that they have,” Alton coach Garth Akal said. “We’re basically resting on our laurels with the TCAY club and swimming all around with them. It’s pretty good when we get into the top three or four against those teams.”
The 200 medley team of Bruce, Powers, Fleming and now-graduated Shelby Roth finished third with a 1:56.87. The 200 freestyle team of Bruce, Fleming, Pohlman and Roth placed fourth with a 1:47.45. Bruce came in third in the 100 butterfly in 1 minute, 0.66 seconds, just two seconds from the state-qualifying time of 58.23 seconds. Powers placed fifth in the 100 breaststroke in 1:11.27. The top six finishers in each event at sectionals earn medals.
Bruce will compete in her fourth sectional on Saturday.
“I like it,” the Alton senior said. “It’s different than most high school teams because most of them have dual meets before this and we only have one, and I kind of like that.”