The Carmel High School girls swimming and diving team continues to add to its growing list of records.
The Greyhounds won their 35th consecutive state championship, extending their national record in any sport, in dominating fashion at the Feb. 13 IHSAA girls state swimming and diving finals at the IU Natatorium at IUPUI. The Greyhounds set a record of 479 points and won by a record margin of 279 points ahead second-place Fishers.
“I knew when we made the lineup, we made it with the intention of having the most scoring opportunities,” Carmel coach Chris Plumb said. “With this year being as it is, we wanted to make sure if we had any quarantines or positive cases, we would still give ourselves the best opportunity to score points at the meet.”
Plumb won a record 24th state championship as coach, 15 with the girls team and nine with the boys team. That broke a tie with former Carmel cross country and track coach Chuck Koeppen.
Junior Gretchen Lueking (200-yard freestyle) and sophomore Berit Berglund (100 backstroke) became repeat state champions. Junior MacKenna Lieske won the state title in the 100 breaststroke.
“I thought our individual wins were impressive,” Plumb said. “It is not an easy task to win an individual event with people shooting for you. MacKenna Lieske had a terrific performance and great last 25 (yards). Gretchen organized her race so well, and Berit went for it right from the beginning.”
Carmel swept all three relay races.
“Relay wins are team wins and this team is strong from top to bottom,” Plumb said. “We use different athletes at different points in the tournament, which helps our team succeed.”
The 200 medley relay consisted of Berglund, senior Maggie Love, junior Hayley Reed and senior Colleen Duffy. The 200 freestyle relay members were Lueking, Duffy, senior Madelyn Christman and sophomore Meghan Christman. The 400 freestyle members were Lueking, Berglund and the Christman sisters.
The 279 points topped the 445 points set by the 2015 team. The 2016 team won nine of 12 events and scored 438 points.
“The 2016 girls team has always been a big motivator for me,” Berglund said. “When I was in fifth grade, I remember watching the state championship in the stands and I told myself that I am going to be in that position one day. I believe the biggest factor in achieving as many points as we did was truly the amount of support and love that we have for each other. Not only that, but knowing we have the legacy of Carmel girls swimming supporting us is an important piece of our success.”
Lueking, who also placed second in the 100 butterfly, said the girls push each other every day in and out of the pool.
“We knew it was going to be different without having people in the stands, but we embraced it,” said Lueking, who has made a verbal commitment to Notre Dame. “We knew we worked hard, and we didn’t really need fans just for us to go fast. I knew they were back home supporting us. We made the best of it and still had fun. Since the beginning of the season, our ultimate goal was to score the most points.”
Love, who will swim for Purdue next season, earned the Mental Attitude Award.
“Her attitude is amazing and her care for others is unmatched,” Plumb said.