Barnett’s move from freestyle gives Barrington flexibility

SHARE Barnett’s move from freestyle gives Barrington flexibility

LAKE FOREST — Heading into the 2014 girls swim and dive season, Barrington was suffering from an embarrassment of riches.

The Fillies had too many freestyle swimmers.

In 2013, Barrington had swimmers qualify for the state meet in all four individual freestyle races (50, 100, 200 and 500 yards) and both relays (200 and 400). Only one, Mekenna Scheitlin, was a senior, meaning the three others — Kirsten Jacobsen, Andrea Vega and Emma Barnett — would return in 2014.

But Barnett switched strokes, and the move is paying off for the Fillies.

“Because we are freestyle-rich, Emma moved around a bit,” Barrington coach Jim Bart said. “She’s proven herself to be real versatile to our team.”

Over the summer, Barnett saw the freestyle-heavy makeup of the Fillies and decided to try something new.

“In [Barrington Swim Club], I started swimming [individual medley] and learning how to sprint,” Barnett said. “You can contribute in a bunch of different ways.”

Her transition required a subtle change in technique.

“I slip a lot in the water so I’ve been focusing a lot in practice on pulling the water and on hand placement,” Barnett said. “I have to repeat it over and over again.”

Bart added: “We take her out of the distance sets, which she seems to like. It’s more backstroke and IM. When the distance [swimmers] and frees are doing their workout, she’s doing hers.”

The Lake County Invitational held at Lake Forest on Saturday could be called Barnett’s coming-out party in sprints.

She led off the meet swimming the backstroke leg of the 200 medley relay (the Fillies finished second to Libertyville). In the meet’s third event, Barnett finished sixth in the 200 IM (2:15.70). After a break, she swam the 100 back. Her time of 1:01.02 was good for fourth place. Then, after a short breather, Barnett was first for the Fillies in the meet’s closing event, the 400 free relay.

Barrington lost a thrilling race to Lake Forest by 0.11 seconds (3:37.94 to 3:38.05). But the Fillies won the invitational, defeating the Scouts by the score of 269.50 to 257.50.

Barnett’s ability to swim effectively in different races proved her value to this 2014 squad.

“It’s important in big meets like this to have someone who can move around instead of having the same set lineup every meet,” said Jacobsen, champion in both the 200 and 500 free.

Barrington’s team victory could be a momentum builder for the rest of October and November. Barnett said the team is already eyeing the Nov. 1 MSL meet, with designs on reclaiming the trophy from back-to-back champion Fremd.

“Fremd upset us the last two years. [Winning the Lake County Invite] showed how strong we’ve gotten as a team. It really lifts our spirits,” Barnett said. “It’s exciting to see what we can do at the end of the season.”

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