After spending more than a week in Dubai, Mimi Schneider is back preparing for another trip to the IHSA state meet.
Schneider is coming off an experience of a lifetime as a member of Team USA at the fourth FINA World Junior Swimming Championships. The international meet ended Aug. 31 and, after a short break, Schneider was back in the pool for Fenwick, which hopes to earn another trophy at the state meet after taking second to perennial power New Trier last season.
Team USA won the meet championship and, before heading home, Schneider and some of her teammates celebrated with a short excursion to the outskirts of the United Arab Emirates city. Schneider went off-roading on ATVs and rode a camel through the desert.
While she was unable to visit the observation deck at the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, she did stand at the base of the 163-story skyscraper.
“It was probably one of the best weeks of my whole life,” said Schneider, a senior from Western Springs. “It was the best team I’ve been on for me. It was great fun. It was a great atmosphere.”
The meet was held at the futuristic Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Sports Complex, a $300 million facility in the desert with seating for 15,000 spectators.
“It was my first time ever in an international meet,” Schneider said. “It was really fun. It was my first time on Team USA.”
Schneider and Becca Mann of Homer Glen were the only Illinois swimmers to compete for Team USA at the World Juniors. Schneider qualified by finishing second at the Junior Nationals in California. Less than two weeks later, she was on an airplane to Washington, D.C., to meet the rest of Team USA for the flight to Dubai Aug. 22. The team spent a few days training before the World Juniors Aug. 26.
“The city is super modern, but it was so hot,” Schneider said. “The city itself has a look of a skyline. There are tons of super tall buildings. It’s a big metropolis.”
Schneider was seventh in the 100-meter freestyle (55.99), her only individual event at the World Juniors. She was second with the mixed (two boys and two girls) 400 free relay and third with the girls 400 free relay. She swam the 400 medley relay in the preliminaries.
“It was an unbelievable experience, no matter how you do it,” Fenwick coach Renee Miller said. “You compete against the greatest athletes in the world. It’s a great opportunity.”
Schneider is Fenwick’s top returning swimmer. She was a relay member on the first-place 200-yard medley and runner-up 200 and 400 freestyles. After touching second in the 100 butterfly last year, Schneider is best finisher back in that event since champion Gia Dalesandro of Neuqua Valley has graduated.
The Friars lost one major contributor from last season when sophomore Kierston Farley-Sepe, a four-time state medalist, moved with her family back to Wisconsin.