There was a lot of balance – and a lot of individual improvement, too.
There was also real postseason achievement from pretty much the entire team, and Megan Ahnert liked all those things about 2022-2023 Cathedral High School girls swimming.
“The girls did fantastic,” Ahnert said.
Ahnert, in her eighth season with the program and first as head coach, said the Irish girls entered ’22-23 with lofty goals and achieved many of them. A highlight came in the postseason, when every Irish girls swimmer who entered a sectional preliminary advanced to at least one final.
“That blew me out of the water,” Ahnert said.
The Irish finished fifth in the Section 14 meet at North Central with 163 points behind North Central (492), Franklin Central (412.5), Lawrence North (403.5) and Bishop Chatard (183).
“We didn't have everybody advance in every event, but each swimmer that swam on Friday had the opportunity to swim on Saturday, which was fantastic,” Ahnert said. “Some people had some very significant drops [in time] to be able to do that. It was pretty impressive.”
The Irish in 2023 also finished second in the City Meet to Bishop Chatard and edged Chatard at the Schools With No Pools meet while finishing second to Brebeuf. Ahnert said the program grew significantly as swimmers “navigated a new head coach.”
“We had a lot of consistent drops – and then big drops at sectionals,” Ahnert said. “It was a big growing year and an opportunity to really do well in future seasons, too, with how young our team is.”
The Irish in ’22-23 indeed were a young team, with individual sectional results as follows:
*Senior Sandra Granados: seventh in the 500 freestyle in 5:36.67, ninth in the 100 butterfly in 1:05.00.
*Freshman Kiernan Fahey: eighth in the 100 breaststroke in 1:15.28, 11th in the 200 individual medley in 2:29.06.
*Freshman Gabi Duke: 11th in the 100 backstroke in 1:07.62 and 14th in the 200 individual medley in 2:32.89.
*Junior Libby Lewis: 11th in the 50 freestyle in 26.44.
*Freshman Mary Lisa Bradshaw: 13th in the 200 freestyle in 2:17.34.
*Sophomore Mary Murphy: 14th in the 200 freestyle in 2:17.45 and 14th in the 100 backstroke in 1:11.24.
*Junior Maddy White: 14th in the 100 freestyle in 1:00.53 and 15th in the 100 breaststroke in 1:22.42.
*Senior Sally Bradshaw: 14th in the 500 freestyle in 6:19.29.
*Junior Kathryn Hardin: 15th in the 200 freestyle in 2:19.71 and 15th in the 100 backstroke in 1:11.58.
*Senior Charlotte Thompson: 15th in the 500 freestyle in 6:25.53 and 16th in the 100 breaststroke in 1:22.82.
*Senior Caroline Keltner: 15th in the 100 butterfly in 1:13.80.
The Irish’s 200 medley relay – Duke, Fahey, Granados and Lewis – finished fifth in 2:01.32. The 200 freestyle relay – Fahey, senior Lea White, Maddy White and Lewis – finished sixth in 1:50.19. The 400 freestyle relay – Duke, Maddy White, Granados and Lewis – finished fourth in 4:01.57.
Another highlight came at the sectional meet when Lewis received a sportsmanship award. Shortly before a heat, the goggles of a Lawrence North swimmer snapped. Lewis saw this, ran to the other swimmer and gave her her goggles.
“Libby didn't think it was that big of a deal,” Ahnert said. “She was like, ‘People are making big deal about it, but it's literally nothing.’ That just embodies who Libby is and the type of leader she is on our team. That was really cool that a lot of other people, especially on other teams or from the IHSAA, saw what we see all the time. That was impressive.”
With Granados, Bradshaw, Keltner and Thompson the only seniors among the 12 top swimmers, Ahnert said the future appears strong for a program that adjusted to new leadership with some new direction in 2022-2023.
“There are obviously things that I would do differently,” Ahnert said. “I already have notes that I have made for next year. I got to the end of the season and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I have XYZ equipment I didn't even use that I had plans to use.’ I've made notes on certain practices to change different things, just little things here and there that I just didn't realize or I didn't think about until it was the head coach.
“And I was like, ‘Oh, OK. That's a note for next year. We're okay where we are now, but you know, if we want to be better than right now, next year this is what we're going to do.’ ”