Baraboo High School girls swimming coach Lynn Keeling calls her 200 medley relay swimmers the dream team.
All four swimmers-Mackenzie Koehler, Taylor Bradley, Kirby Tock, and Hannah Vittengl, were not only state qualifiers last year, but Koehler and Tock were members of last season’s state medley team which saw a fifth place podium finish. This time, higher stakes are on the line as the quartet has a shot at the ultimate goal: winning a state title.
“That’s been our strong relay all year,” Keeling said of the medley. “We’ve got some elite swimmers on it. We’ve got Kirby (on the) fly, Taylor breast, Mackenzie back and Hannah free, I mean it’s the ultimate package of swimmers.”
Baraboo’s medley relay is seeded second for Friday’s WIAA Div. 2 State Championships at the UW-Natatorium, with a time of 1:49.3. The T-Birds are seeded only behind Madison Edgewood, which comes in with an impressive 1:46.09.
“I think they have a dream to beat Edgewood, so who knows,” Keeling said of her medley relay swimmers. “Edgewood is seeded far ahead of everyone in everything.”
Tock, a junior who will be swimming at state for the third year in a row, said defeating the Crusaders in the event will be tough but she has confidence within her veteran teammates.
“The relays are the best part of any swim meet, especially at the state level,” Tock said. “The medley’s been cool because we haven’t switched anyone out of it at all this season. So the chemistry is definitely up there, we know how each other is going to swim.”
Bradley, who will compete in Wisconsin’s state meet for the first time, agrees.
“It would be really cool,” Bradley said of winning a state title. “We’re all super close so it would mean a lot to us. We’re all really close to each other, and I think that will help us swim fast.”
But the 200 medley relay is just one of eight total events Baraboo will be competing in. The T-Birds also qualified in the 200 and 400 freestyle relays, with freshman Naomi Pelland, senior Danielle Crum, Bradley, and Vittengl seeded fourth in heat one of the 200 free (1:42.84) while Koehler, Pelland, Tock, and Vittengl are seeded third in heat one of the 400 free (3:43.8).
“We lost so many freestylers last year, but I think a lot of girls have stepped up,” Tock said. “None of us except for Hannah and Naomi have been solidified as freestylers, so we’ve kind of had to grow into that role. It’s nice to see the progress, and hopefully we can get all three relays on the podium. That’s the goal.”
With the top six teams making it to the state podium, Keeling said her 200 free relay team will have a shot.
“I really think so,” said Keeling of her 200 freestyle relay team’s chance of making the podium. “If you look at the 200 free there are so many teams that are at 1:42 something. The winner of that first heat could definitely get sixth.”
The T-Birds will also compete in five individual events. One of the most anticipated swimmers is Tock, who is seeded fourth in the 100 yard butterfly. The junior set a new personal best of 58:11 at sectionals, and hopes to lower her time even more.
“I got my previous personal best of 58.13 at state last year, so it’s nice to see I’ve already surpassed that,” Tock said. “I think it would be really cool to get the school record which is a 56 up there, so about a second and a half (difference) which will be hard but I’ve got to set it. You have to set your standards high and go for it.”
Bradley is another swimmer that has a shot at the podium, as she’s seeded first in heat one of the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:09.51. Bradley is hoping to break the school record, which stands at 1:08.37.
“She’s really an excellent breaststroker but she had some troubles at sectionals; she slipped,” Keeling said of Bradley. “So she has really been seeded second all year and now she’s seeded ninth but she can still get first or second out of the first heat depending on her time.”
Koehler meanwhile, is hoping to end her senior year with fast times in the 200 free and the 100 backstroke. She is seeded fifth in heat one of the 200 (1:59.61) and sixth in heat one of the back (1:01.04).
“She wasn’t happy with her times, even though they were overall season bests,” said Keeling of Koehler. “They were great times. But she’s very hard on herself; she wants to do even better.”
Other swimmers and their qualifying times include Bradley in the 200 IM (2:17.36) and Vittengl in the 100 breast (1:11.27).
“As long as they get their personal bests, that makes for a great evening,” Keeling said of her team’s state goals. “But definitely Taylor and Kirby on the medal stand and the medley relay. Anything after that is just icing on the cake.”