CARMEL, Indiana, February 19. THIS past weekend, Carmel High School won its 28th straight state title in Indiana, and already asserted itself as a heavy favorite for Swimming World’s High School National Championship this summer. Carmel’s head coach Chris Plumb took some time out today to talk about the amazing meet this past weekend, which featured all three public school relay records falling to Carmel.
You’ve won two of the last three national titles on the girls side, along with four out of the last five public school titles. This year, you swept the public school relay records in one of the most historic meets of any girls team in high school swimming. While Carmel certainly has dominated at the state level with 28 straight wins, you’ve certainly moved the team into a new level nationally. What stock do you take in performing well against the rest of the nation? Is it something that adds more motivation to a team that typically doesn’t have much competition in state?
Since I have become Head Coach of the program, it has been our goal to be a perennial national competitor, both among the high school ranks and on the USS level. Our goal at the beginning of the season is to win the [Swimming World] National Title. If we are shooting for the National Title, the State Championship takes care of itself. Our state provides plenty of competition both for our relays and individuals. This year was one of the fastest state meets I have seen. While we haven’t been pushed as a team, our individuals and relay teams are pushed. Our state provides tremendous competition.
After your performance at states, there’s little doubt that Carmel is a favorite to win the national title, especially with the overall depth of the program. Every one of your swimmers made it to finals in Indy last weekend. What are you doing that is leading to such strong depth overall as a team?
I believe it speaks to culture of the program as a whole and not just the high school program, but the Carmel Swim Club. Somewhere in recent history, swimming became something young girls in Carmel wanted to be a part of. The girls watch and see what others girls just like them have done and it empowers them. It strengthens their belief in themselves and gives them the courage to achieve greatness. It also demonstrates what a fantastic and caring coaching staff we have and the strong support for swimming from the school and athletic department.
You really had a handful of top-of-the-line performers that took part in the record-setting relays. Can you talk separately about each of them, what you take away from how they train, and what they are like as competitors and human beings?
Hanna House (headed to Notre Dame):
Hanna was our senior leader this year. Without Hanna, the team would have been lost. Her unrelenting work ethic, personal drive, and attention to detail are unmatched. Hanna spends a lot of time kicking underwater and has the best kick I have ever coached.
Alex Clarke (junior currently ranked 6th in the state of Indiana in the Class of 2015):
Alex is a work horse. She trains IM and can do just about any event we put her in. She has worked and transformed herself into swimming a great breaststroke.
Veronica Burchill (sophomore currently ranked 1st in the state of Indiana in the Class of 2016):
Veronica is a gamer. The bigger the moment, the more she thrives. She lives for relays and the past two years, she has swum on three relays. A true team player. Veronica is also great at making in meet adjustments and is always learning how to be better.
Amy Bilquist (junior currently ranked 1st in the state of Indiana in the Class of 2015):
Amy certainly elevated the team’s performance this past year. At first, it was a difficult transition for her – both in and out of the pool. She had grown up in Arizona, and Indiana was a culture shock. Slowly over time, she has adapted. She is a tremendous competitor and at times, wills herself to terrific performances. She also picks up things in the pool faster than anyone I have seen. We watched video of Nathan Adrian’s quick breath in October. In November and December, she was doing it in practice. In January, she brought it to the meet. At the high school state meet, I had coaches asking me how she did that.
Claire Adams (sophomore, currently unranked):
Claire is a true winner in and out the pool. On the outside, she comes across as sweet. Underneath the gentle interior, there is a fierce competitor. She loves to swim fast at practice. After practice, she is almost always the last one there either working on her turns or picking up the pool deck after practice. She willingly helps the younger athletes.
Katie Lemen (senior, currently unranked):
Katie has been waiting her entire career to make it on a finals relay. She finally earned the opportunity for the last swim of her high school career. I am happy she got the opportunity.
Kendall Smith (sophomore, currently ranked 7th in the state of Indiana in Class of 2016):
Kendall has improved an incredible amount over the past couple of years. Every day, she quietly goes about her business of working hard and improving ever so slightly. She always gives her best effort and never complains about a workout or a set. We are excited to see where she can go the next two years.
Rankings based on CollegeSwimming.com.