Chesterton Girls Swim Takes Home 23rd Consecutive Sectional Title In Their Race to State

After a little over two decades, CHS Girls Swim continues to dominate!

The Chesterton Boy’s Swim team dresses up to cheer on their teammates.

Miranda Miller, Co-Editor In Chief

For a little over two decades, the Chesterton Girl’s Swim team has dominated their Sectional competition and this was no different on Saturday, February 5th when the team took home yet another Sectional Championship, making this the 23rd win in a row.  On Friday, February 4, the girls began the preliminary races of the Sectional competition at the Valparaiso High School pool.  Even with rival, Valparaiso, having the advantage of swimming in their home pool and intense competition in the finals, it turned out to be a very successful day for the Trojans.  Chesterton led the placings with an overall score of 507 points, followed by Valparaiso High School (460) in second place, Portage High School in third, and LaPorte High School in fourth place.  Following LaPorte, in this order came Michigan City, Hobart, Kankakee Valley, Wheeler, Merrillville, North Judson, Knox, and Calumet.  

The Lady Trojans took eight first-place finishes at Sectionals, contributing to their fantastic overall team performance.  These finishes were accomplished by seniors Alana Jardenil and Veronika Ozimek, sophomore Rachel Dildine, and junior Olivia Piunti, with each girl taking more than one first-place title.   Not only did they each finish first in their respective events, but each of the swimmers qualified for the State competition.  Jardenil and Ozimek have been swimming for all four years of their high school careers and have been huge contributors to the past four Sectional wins.  From the start of the season, it has been anticipated that both Jardenil and Ozimek would take the top placings in each of their events at Sectionals.    

Alana Jardenil, who has made incredible strides in her high school career, is excited to compete in her last State competition, however, this excitement has not clouded her drive to practice hard in preparation.  “The state of Indiana is a very good swimming state. Girls throughout the state are very fast and the state meet is a whole different dynamic than Sectionals, so the faster competition always serves as a challenge,” Jardenil states.  

Similar to the expectations of the two seniors, Rachel Dildine, the youngest of the Trojan champions, was anticipated to perform exceptionally well at the Sectional competition.  In addition, Olivia Piunti has had a phenomenal season herself. This will be Piunti’s first time swimming at State, and with her fantastic finish at Sectionals, the expectations are high for her.  With an impressive season backing her, Piunti has been able to earn her spot among the top Chesterton swimmers.  

When looking back on the Sectional win, Jardenil keeps in mind that this year’s team is very young, with the majority of swimmers being freshmen.  “As a team I think a lot of us improved in the weight room. I think the new weights program helped a lot of us get stronger. In addition, because we have a younger team, at the beginning of the year a lot of us hadn’t swam with the freshman class for a pretty long time. So throughout the year, I think we all got a lot closer as a team,” says Jardenil. 

With a close-knit team, impressive talent, and the eagerness to dominate, the team has shown that there is no stopping them.  This does not mean that Sectionals did not present its own challenges, however.  “The biggest challenge at sectionals for me was just trying to enjoy the moment, sometimes I put pressure on myself and that gets in the way of remembering to have fun,” says Jardenil. 

Nerves and stress aside, the team was able to pull through, collectively taking placings amongst the top in each event.  Beginning in the relays, Chesterton took first place in both the 400 freestyle relay and the 200 medley relay.  In the 400 free relay, Chesterton’s team of Dildine, Piunti, Jardenil, and Ozimek took first with a time of 3:32:42, followed by Valparaiso, and LaPorte in third.  Similarly to their performance in the 400 free relay, Chesterton’s team of Dildine, Piunti, Jardenil, and Ozimek placed first in the 200 medley relay with the time 1:46:23, followed by Valparaiso in second, and LaPorte in third.  Lastly, in the 200 freestyle relay, Chesterton came up just short, taking home a second-place finish, falling to Valparaiso.   

In the 500 freestyle, Chesterton’s Piunti and freshman Mia Kirkham took second and third place, respectively, falling to LaPorte’s Caiya Cooper.  

In the 200 individual medley, Jardenil took first place with a time of 2:08:79, followed by LaPorte’s Rebekah Shaffer in second, and Chesterton senior Morgan Gear in third, who had finished with a career-best time, ending her season with a bang.  In the 200 free, Dildine took first place with a time of 1:53:13, and was ahead of Valparaiso’s Edith Patterson and LaPorte’s Cooper.  

In the 100 fly, with the time 56:32, Dildine placed first and was followed by LaPorte’s Shaffer, and Chesterton’s Kirkham.  In the 100 freestyle, Ozimek placed first with a time of 51:36, and was followed by Valparaiso’s Patterson and Chesterton senior Madelin Billings.  In the 100 backstroke, with a time of 59:34, Piunti took first place, followed by Gear in second, who accomplished yet another career-best time, and Valparaiso’s Emma Krsak in third.  In the 100 breaststroke, Jardenil placed first with a time of 1:04:93, followed by Chesterton sophomore Annemarie Easter in second, and Valparaiso’s Andrea Grasch in third.  Finally, in the 50 freestyle, Chesterton’s Ozimek placed first with a final time of 23:55.  

The team’s success was not possible without each member pulling their weight and working hard.  “It feels really rewarding to have my hard work pay off. Swimmers work extremely hard every day with early mornings and late nights and I’m really proud of myself as well as my team for working hard through it all and seeing results just feels so awesome, it makes all the work we put in so worth it,” says Jardenil.  

Even though the girls have made it past Sectionals, the time, energy, and hard work that is put in are not over just yet.  The team has set a goal to place amongst the top 10 teams, and another to place in each of their qualified relay events.  Jardenil shares her own goals, stating, “Personally, for State, I want to medal in the 100 breaststroke. Also, I want to break my 100 breaststroke school record that I set sophomore year.”

Due to their incredible finishes in a number of events, the Chesterton girl’s swim team has advanced to the IHSAA State Finals competition.  In order for individuals to qualify, they must either win their respective event or events or swim within the State cut time.  By placing first, Jardenil, Ozimek, Piunti, and Dildine all successfully qualified.  The qualified swimmers are excited to continue their season on February 11th and 12th at IUPUI’s Natatorium.  The team has great expectations for State, setting the bar high for what Chesterton hopes to be an incredible season finish.   

The Sandscript wishes the team the best of luck in their competition at State.