A rejuvenated Honore Collins off to strong start for Evanston

EVANSTON — At just her second meet of the season, Evanston sophomore Honore Collins swam her career-best time in the 200-yard individual medley and was close to her best in the 100 backstroke during the dual with Loyola.

Clearly, Collins had put in a grueling summer in the pool. Or so it seemed.

“Trained hard, not really,” Collins said. “Once the season started I started practicing and trying hard. Over the summer, I didn’t go (to training with the club team at the Evanston YMCA) too consistently.”

Collins continued: “I wouldn’t say you should do that, but I was really sick of swimming. It was my 13th year doing it and I got bored and went away (on vacation), and I came back and was much more motivated.”

Since practice began Aug. 14, Collins has made up for lost time, and it was reflected in her early performances. Against the Ramblers, Collins finished second in the 200 IM (2 minutes, 14.56 seconds) and second in the 100 backstroke (1:00.64) on Sept. 6. She also swam the lead leg on the 200 medley relay that finished second (1:51.91) and was part of the 400 freestyle relay that finished third (3:44.57).

“At the moment, Honore is our hottest swimmer,” Wildkits coach Kevin Auger said after that meet. “She has a very good attitude, comes in and trains hard. She hasn’t missed a workout (since the start of practice).”

Collins is coming off a freshman season in which she was part of a 200 medley relay team that qualified for the state meet, which was held at Evanston.

The group, which featured three freshmen — Collins, Ana Woods and Madeline Managlia — and junior Rosselyn Lopez, was disqualified on what Collins insists was a questionable official’s call.

“It was called a false start,” Collins said. “But we ended up watching the video on an iPad, pausing it, and you could see that one girl was touching the wall and the other was still on the block.”

Rather than get discouraged, Collins was inspired by the experience.

“None of us were disappointed,” she said. “We knew (this year) we’d all be faster. It was more like, ‘Next year we’ll be 20 times faster!’ ”

As for her goals this season, Collins said she hopes to swim the 100 backstroke at state and is looking to break the school’s sophomore record (58.2) in that event. She’d also like to qualify in the 200 IM.

In the relays, last year’s 200 medley group could return intact in the postseason. Collins said the 400 free relay also has a shot at state.

Auger said Collins, whose name is pronounced honor, is capable of accomplishing big things this season and in the future, but she’ll have to do the necessary work in order to progress.

“Honestly, she has the ability and the skills to go where she wants to go,” Auger said. “But every level up is 10 times harder, it’s not an incremental jump. To go from top 50 percent to top 30 percent is an enormous hurdle. Top 30 to top 10 is way bigger than that.”

He continued: “Qualifying for state as a freshman is great. If (Collins) can qualify individually and help the relays score this year, that would be a big jump in the right direction. After that, she’s going to have to score (individually). The progression is there. But there is a lot of work to be done (between now and then).”

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