Thomson keeps getting better for Devils

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There is almost nothing Danny Thomson can’t do for Hinsdale Central.

“He should be a senator,” Devils coach Corky King said.

But after winning two more state championships and another two medals at the state meet Saturday, Thomson plans on returning to practice Sunday. Even the Stanford-bound senior can’t afford to take a day off with the Illinois Swimming Association’s Senior Championship looming next weekend at the University of Illinois-Chicago.

Thomson, who will attend the U.S. Olympic trials June 25-July 2 in Omaha, Neb., broke his own state record in the 500-yard freestyle in less than 24 hours to become only the state’s second three-time champion in that event. Thomson also won the 200 free in 1:37.47 to just miss the state record held by Neuqua Valley’s Kevin Overholt (1:37.24) from 2009.

In the 500, Thomson broke his record of 4:21.04 from 2011 to swim 4:19.28 in Friday’s preliminaries. He beat New Trier junior Reed Malone 4:18.86-4:21.02 in the finals.

“With the 500 free, I definitely knew it would be an awesome battle [against Malone],” Thomson said. “We push each other to the limit. All through the meet, I was talking between me and Reed. We’re such good friends. It was a big race, but it was us having fun.”

To add to Thomson’s growing legend, he raced in back-to-back heats when he finished the 500 free, accepted his medal and then handed it to King in time to compete in the consolation heat of the 200 free relay as the anchor with Connor Schroyer, Will Leach and Brian Portland. The relay finished seventh (1:25.52).

“I did it to help the team,” Thomson said. “I’m glad to be able to help the team out and place as high as we can. But it was tiring.”

The Devils nearly won a third place trophy, but came up short by finishing the last event in 12th (3:12.50) in the 400 free relay with Leach, Portland, Alex Cruz and Schroyer. Warren’s 400 relay placed seventh to give the Blue Devils (80 points) third place behind New Trier (250) and Naperville North (130). Hinsdale Central and Sandburg tied for fourth with 73 points each.

The day belonged to Thomson, who finished his career with five state titles and 10 medals. He tied former Hinsdale Central standout Brian Gunn, who won three consecutive 500 free championships from 1987-89. But Thomson could not tie Gunn’s career haul of five state titles and 11 medals. Thomson became the seventh Devils swimmer to win five state titles. Only John Murphy (seven titles from 1968-71) and Matt Robertson (six titles from 1974-76) have won more.

“If Danny doesn’t do something or win something, he’s still Danny,” King said. “He’s such a nice kid. He’s soft spoken. He knows every kid in school.”

In the 200 free, Thomson became the first repeat champion since Champaign Central’s Tyler Gill, who won three consecutive titles from 2004-06. Gunn was the last 200 free champion from Hinsdale Central in 1988 and the last Devil to repeat was Scott Cordin (1962-63).

Hinsdale Central placed seventh (1:35.05) in the meet’s opening event, the 200 medley. The relay included Leach, Eddie Mapel, Portland and Thomson.

In diving, Hinsdale Central junior Ryan O’Donnell finished 11th (369.10 points). Mapel (58.27) placed sixth in the 100 breast.

Gallery by Joel Lerner

Where does Thomson rank among the Devils’ greatest swimmers? Here’s the list, ranked by state titles won and total medals:

Source: IHSA

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