EVANSTON – For most of his high school career, Jacobs co-op’s Alex Reinbrecht had visualized himself swimming on the second day of the two-day state finals.
The four-time state qualifier didn’t advance out of Friday’s preliminary swims in each of his previous three seasons, finding himself out of the Top 12 each time. But Reinbrecht used his past experiences and brought a calm approach to his swims that resulted in two consolation finals times at Evanston.
“I’m really, really excited,” Reinbrecht said. “I’ve been down here four years in a row now and I finally made it, regardless of my times. I’m just really happy I made finals.”
Reinbrecht didn’t swim a best time but placed 10th in the 200 freestyle (1:42.76), good enough for a spot in Saturday’s race. He also advanced in the 500 freestyle, grabbing the seventh spot with a 4:37.68. He missed the “A” Finals by 0.32 of a second.
The senior waited until Monday to begin his taper in hoping to fully rested for this meet, and it worked – almost too well. He felt so good that he swam the first half of his 200 freestyle race too fast and had trouble keeping pace at the end.
He said he felt himself losing speed and plans to swim more controlled Saturday, hoping to not make the same mistake again.
“I was amped and ready to go,” Reinbrecht said. “I wanted to go as fast as possible as long as possible, and I tired out. [Saturday], I’m not going to do that.”
Reinbrecht’s teammate, sophomore Francis Ogaban (Hampshire) swam the 100 backstroke and finished 38th in his first state meet, touching the wall in 54.18.
Cary-Grove co-op senior Adam Eibel (Crysal Lake South) took 43rd in the 100 breaststroke (1:01.95) and was excited that his last race of his career was at the state meet.
“It’s a great way to end senior year,” Eibel said after his race. “This stadium filled up all around you is pretty crazy. I maybe got a little too excited and my strokes were a little too short and choppy, but it was a good experience.”
Like Eibel, McHenry sophomores Kevin Braun and Trey Schopen wanted to soak in the experience during their first state meet with hopes of coming back next year prepared for the atmosphere.
Schopen, who finished 34th in the 200 freestyle (1:46.77), said the pressure got to him. He had never swum in front of such a big crowd, as hundreds of spectators packed into the U-shaped seating area above the pool.
“I was trying not to throw up,” Schopen said. “I don’t think I’ve ever been more nervous in my entire life. I felt more sick before the race than coming out.”
Braun was the only area swimmer to drop time at the meet and finished 17th in the 50 freestyle with a personal-best 21.77. He also finished 21st in the 100 freestyle. While Braun swam in two events, the feeling that he will remember most was when Sacred Heart-Griffin senior Ryan Held broke 20 seconds in the 50 freestyle, touching in 19.89. Almost everyone in attendance stood and cheered for several minutes. The time was just 0.09 off the state record set last season.
“I’m just trying to absorb everything, and I’m here to watch some of the best times,” Braun said. “That 19.89 was so cool. That’s what I want to do. The whole crowd was clapping and screaming. It was so awesome.”