Published in The CHagrin Valley Times
February 21, 2019
Whether it’s a sense of urgency or simply a matter of boys turning to men, high school males tend to swim their best times senior year.
Whatever the reason, Kenston senior Billy Glime got it done for the Bombers, dropping 3.02 seconds off his 100-yard backstroke from a year ago to become the first male swimmer from his school to secure an individual Division I state berth since 2005 graduate Chris Medhurst and 2001 graduate Kyle Wamelink.
Glime finished sixth in the 100 backstroke in 52.13 seconds during the Division I Northeast District meet on Saturday at Cleveland State’s Busbey Natatorium. He is seeded 21st entering the Division I state meet this Friday and Saturday at Canton McKinley’s Branin Natatorium.
“I was hoping to get 52, but I was not expecting to get a 52.13,” said Glime, who already swam a massive lifetime best in 53.65 seconds at sectionals the previous week, which threw gasoline on 2002 graduate Billy German’s 17-year-old school record of 54.76 seconds and lit it up in flames.
Dropping another 1.52 seconds at districts was just fanning the fire.
“I think this year I really worked the weight room and all the out-of-water aspects of swimming, like dryland, just everything,” Glime said. “So, I think that was really the turning factor in dropping so much time.”
More specifically in the water, Glime said his underwater dolphin kick was the motor that propelled him to securing a bid to the big dance.
Backstrokers are at their fastest during the streamline position off their starts and turns, but the underwater rule requires swimmers’ heads to break the surface at a distance no greater than 15 meters to avoid disqualification. Getting as close to that distance as possible has been key, Glime said.
“I think my underwaters have been one of my biggest in-water improvements this year,” Glime said. “Just going all out on every single turn, I think, is what gave me so much room to drop time.
“When I was warming up for the event, I was counting out how many dolphin kicks it would take to get to the legal underwater limit, and one of my friends videotaped the swim. And when I was watching it, I was right there when I popped up off of my start. So, for my start, I did 14 dolphin kicks, and then for my turns I try to get out as far as I can, but sometimes on that third turn it can be a struggle.”
With the sport of swimming constantly evolving and times rapidly continuing to drop, 52.13 seconds in the 100 backstroke was a shoo-in for a Division I state podium spot just a decade ago.
Following his district race on Saturday, Glime said he wasn’t even sure if he’d be moving on to the big dance.
“I was just super happy to see that time,” Glime said. “Like, states or no states, it was such an awesome time for me, and it was such an accomplishment in itself. So, I was I hoping it was going to be good enough, but I was still just ecstatic.
“And when I found I actually made states, it was super crazy. Since freshman year, states has been a goal. And to be able to finally achieve it and actual go to states is so cool. It’s still crazy to me.”
Glime also swam the 100 butterfly at districts and finished 17th in a lifetime best 54.34 seconds, shedding 1.59 seconds of his sectional time. After competing in the 200 individual medley the past three years, Glime just started training for the 100 butterfly midway through this season.
Meanwhile, Kenston junior Mary O’Neill secured a three-peat state berth by finishing district runner-up in the 1-meter springboard competition with an 11-dive score of 465.85 points, coming just three points shy of Solon senior gold medalist Sidney O’Donnell.
Improving her district score by 53.35 points from a year ago, O’Neill owns the eighth seed entering the Division I state diving competition this Thursday at Canton McKinley’s Branin Natatorium.
“At districts, I just really wanted to focus on competing like I was in practice and fine-tuning my dives more,” O’Neill said. “I get nervous at meets sometimes, and we’re working on how I can be less nervous. So, my inward double was definitely one of my best dives for the meet. My coaches and I were proud of that dive.”
O’Neill hit her inward double somersault from the tuck position for a competition-high 58.8 points on her final dive.
While that dive has a 2.8 degree of difficulty, the highest on her list, O’Neill said a feet-first entry doesn’t always impress the judges.
“I really enjoy inwards, and I just started practicing that one again,” she said. “So, not doing it for a while, and then finally getting back into it, it’s easier to make the changes where I haven’t had the habits for a long time.
“And the (feet-first) entry isn’t always as elegant, so the head-first entries do get scored better, I think. So, I’d rather go to my head, but, if that dive’s scoring well, I don’t see why I wouldn’t keep doing it.”
O’Neill also scored 46.8 points on her inward 1 1/2-somersalt from the pike position and 46.2 points on her reverse 1 1/2 tuck to propel her to a runner-up finish.
Gearing for her third trip to states, O’Neill finished 14th as a freshman with 394.4 points in 2017, and then she took 10th last year with 434.75 points and missed the podium by 3.85 points.
“I always just try to focus on the points that I can get, because I really can’t control anybody else or how they dive,” she said about not putting any pressure on herself for a certain placement this year.
“And I was really proud of my performance this year, because I actually did move up four spots from freshman year,” O’Neill said. “So, I wasn’t too focused on not making podium rather than my improvement. And I think I’m much more relaxed for the meet because I’ve already have been there and it’s not anything new. I’ve been training hard for it.”
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