Carmel swimming and diving team seeks to keep championship streak alive and build lasting high school sports legacy
By Abby Walton
In 1986 a group of girls at Carmel High School won the state championship in swimming. Besides winning a state title, that team began something that would later be known as “the streak.”
“You definitely realize you’re working towards something that’s bigger than yourself. I wasn’t even born when the streak began, but I’m proud to be a part of its legacy,” said Hanna House, a senior on the Carmel swimming and diving team.
The legacy she is talking about is a string of 27 consecutive state championships in girls swimming. If the team wins another championship at the state finals Feb. 15, the team will become the winningest high school program in the country’s history – regardless of sport or gender.
As a former competitive swimmer, Carmel Head Coach Chris Plumb knew that becoming the girls’ swim coach was a special opportunity.
“It’s definitely one of the top club and high school jobs in the country,” he said.
Eye on the Olympics
That’s because not only are these girls working toward continuing the streak, they’re also working toward much bigger goals.
“These girls are also focusing on national competitions and even the Olympic trials,” he said.
One of those girls is House, who’s been swimming competitively since she was a child and made the cut to attend the Olympic trials last year.
“I definitely have plans to try for it again in 2016,” House said.
Until then, she said she’s focused on making this last trip to the big meet.
“It’s exciting to go to practice. Every girl works hard and we push each other to be the best,” House said.
Getting better every year
With the expectation of a state championship, plus bigger dreams of swimming on the national stage, people might think that swimming for CHS is stressful. However, House said that’s not the case.
“Honestly, we really don’t feel any outside pressure to win. There’s a lot of competition within the team and we push each other to be the best,” she said.
Coach Plumb said that even with the high expectations that surround them, each win or honor is just a testament to the girls’ work ethic.
“It’s really a special feeling to help them do more than they ever thought they could accomplish,” he said.
And with each passing year, both Plumb and House said it seems the team gets stronger as a new crop of girls arrives, eager to make their mark on the team.
“It seems like our team gets better every year. We have some amazing freshmen this year. Everyone works so hard and even though not everyone will get to swim postseason, I know those girls will still be there, cheering the rest of the team on,” she said.
‘Becoming better as a team’
House admits it’s fun to win, but she said for her and the other girls, swimming at this level is about something more.
“It teaches you a lot of life lessons like self-discipline and teamwork,” she said.
House said it’s those things she and her teammates will take away from their years of high school swimming.
“We all realize that the streak will break at some point because everything eventually gets broken, but we really don’t think about that. We’re not focused on other people, we are focused on ourselves and becoming better as a team,” she said.
It’s this commitment to the sport that sends many of these girls on to swim in college, including House, who will be swimming next year for the University of Notre Dame.
For 27 years the program has built a tradition of excellence. And all year long, hundreds of girls have been working together for a common goal – to be the best.