Finishing her high school swimming career in style, Evanston Township High School senior Sarah Thompson broke two long-standing school records and figured in all her team's 29 points at the IHSA swimming finals Saturday at the Wildkits' pool.
Thompson erased a pair of 27-year old records held by former Evanston Olympian Stacy Cassiday in the 200-yard freestyle and the 500 freestyle during Friday's preliminary rounds and bettered her own mark in the 500 free in the final on the way to a third-place finish. She was second in the 200 free. Cassiday competed in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.
New Trier easily took the team title with 198.5 points followed by Loyola Academy (126) Rosary of Aurora (122.5), Downers Grove North (114) and Fenwick (85). Hinsdale Central amassed 66 points to place sixth ahead of Glenbrook South (63), Neuqua Valley (57), Naperville North (52) and St. Charles East (50). Evanston finished 14th.
"She really gave it her all and she got it all," said Evanston coach Kevin Auger of the Williams College-bound senior captain. "She works so hard; she's smart and such a nice kid. She has it all."
"Everyone was so excited when I broke the record. Stacy (Cassiday) means so much around here," said Thompson of the standard-setting performances Friday that earned her top seed in the finals.
In the 200 freestyle, Rebecca Stoughton of Peoria Notre Dame barely edged Thompson out of a state championship swimming to the title in 1:49.49 while the Wildkit finished in 1:49.69.
"I felt her (Stoughton) right by me the whole race," Thompson said. "It was a really great swim."
Less than two hours after her second-place finish, Thompson swam third in the 500 free with a time of 4:55.66 behind Stoughton (4:49.86) and Lake Forest's Rachel Stoehr (4:53.40) chopping more than a second off her newly minted school mark.
Thompson, Stoughton and Stoehr dominated the same race a year ago and the friendly nature of their competitiveness showed by the embraces on the victory stand when they received their medals. Stoehr was third in the 200 freestyle.
"I was better paced today" said Thompson of her second record in less than 12 hours. "I held back a little so I could give everything at the end."
Although Thompson feels "a little more secure in the 200" her coach sees his swimmer having a brighter future in long-distance races.
"Her best race is the 1,650 (freestyle) and they don't swim it here," Auger said. "That one takes a lot of effort and she's learning to be a better swimmer every day." Thompson competes in the two longest events (200, 500) the IHSA offers and "It takes a lot to swim those two races two days in a row," Auger added.
After winning medals in her two individual events, Thompson joined teammates Madeline Savage, Susannah Mulhern and Amanda Weidner to finish 11th in the 400 freestyle relay with a time of 3:34.71.