LAKE FOREST — Lake Forest’s girls swim and dive team knew the meet was lost.
Only a Barrington disqualification in the final race, the 400-yard freestyle relay, would give the Scouts a shot at winning the Lake County Invitational championship Saturday. But that fact didn’t stop them from going all out.
“Even though we didn’t have a chance at winning, we knew we should put forth a good effort,” said junior Reilly Lanigan, who swam the relay’s final leg. “The excitement level was up. We were going for the win.”
When Lanigan touched the wall just a sliver of a second before Barrington’s Kirsten Jacobsen, the Scouts’ relay team had accomplished its goal. A short-view look at the 0.11-second margin of victory (3:37.94 to 3:38.05) would say it only ensured a runner-up finish for the host Scouts, who completed the nine-team meet with a score of 257.90, almost 12 points behind champion Barrington (269.50).
But the Scouts preferred to look at the result in the context of their long-term goals.
“When we go into sectionals and state we definitely want to be prepared. We want to know our competition,” Lanigan said. “We want to know what we have to do to be up on the top teams in state.”
Sophomore Jo Annin, who swam the second leg of the 400 free relay, added: “I thought we did really well overall. We had a really hard week at practice and I think we pushed really hard to do our best and compete.”
Scouts coach Carolyn Grevers changed the team’s training leading up to the Lake County Invitational. She focused on sprint endurance, having swimmers go hard for 50 or 100 yards, rest for a short time, then practice the same sequence.
It’s part of a season-long training initiative to get the Scouts comfortable with being tired, something they struggled with while finishing sixth at the 2013 state meet.
“I think we had a hard time being consistent at state last year. I want them to feel each week how to push past that really dead tired, fatigued swimming,” Grevers said. “I’m seeing a lot better swimming, although I know they are tired. That’s the victory for me.”
Lanigan was a standout Saturday. She won the 200 individual medley (2:07.96) and the 100 butterfly (57.83) and swam the final leg in the Scouts’ second-place 200 free relay (1:39.51). Sophomore sprinter Maddie Smith also earned critical points in the 50 free (second place, 24.18) and junior Haley Nelson won the 100 backstroke with a time of 58.09. Sophomores Ella Needler (200 free relay) and Olivia Lomax (400 free relay) added significant contributions.
Lake Forest is missing a key member of last season’s state-qualifying 200 and 400 free relay teams. This summer, sophomore Daria Pyshnenko injured her shoulder during dry-land training. She is practicing with the team, but her time in the pool is limited. Her status for the rest of the season is uncertain.
For now, the Scouts press on with a strong, experienced roster that after Saturday’s midseason test believes it can peak just in time for November’s North Suburban Conference meet and state series.
“We can move forward from this and feel confident. By the end of the season, we’ll be right there,” Lanigan said.