Carmel High School Boys are Swimming World’s Boys High School Team of the Year

Swimming World August 2021 -Carmel High School Boy's Team Is Making History

The Carmel High School girls swim team has been a dominant force for decades, earning national prominence by winning state title after state title. The boys program has reached that sustained level as well.

Carmel won its seventh consecutive Indiana state championship this year and has now won 10 of the past 11. That streak coupled with former Carmel stars Jake Mitchell and Drew Kibler making the Olympic team this year has made a banner year for the Carmel boys, who were named Swimming World’s Boys High School Team of the Year.

“It’s certainly always been the goal to be able to say both (are elite programs),” Carmel coach Chris Plumb said. “We’ve never tried to be a program to spend one-gender focused. When I first started, everybody would be like, ‘Hey, your girls’ team’s great. You girls’ team. Your girls’ team.’ People would say, ‘He can only coach girls.’ And then our boys became really good, and they kind of overshadowed our girls. To have them both be (national champions) in the same year has always been the goal. It’s an amazing achievement. I just think it speaks to the balance, the ability of the team to support each other, for the girls to support the boys and the boys to support the girls. Really, I think it defines the true definition of what team is.”

And it isn’t just one or two elite swimmers. The Carmel depth led to some dominant relays, which set the tone for the team and put together the most head-turning swims of the year.

In the mythical boys national high school championships, Carmel finished with 129 points, ahead of Bolles School (107) in Florida and fellow Indiana school Zionsville (102.5), which led to an epic state meet head-to-head.

The Carmel 400 freestyle relay would have finished first (2:58.70), while the 200 medley relay would have been second (1:29.60) and the 200 free relay fourth (1:22.02).

Meanwhile, individually, Ryan Malicki would have finished fifth in the 100 breaststroke (53.45), Augustus Rothrock was 10th-fastest in the 200 IM (1:46.78) and Griffin Hadley was 13th-best in the 200 freestyle (1:36.64).

“I think Sean Sullivan was a really pleasant surprise this past year. He went 48.9 in the 100 back. I think Ryan’s 100 breast, that’s the best swim,” Plumb said.

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The core helped continue the success of the Carmel program to, not only match the girls the past few years, but usher in the boys’ own identity as a program.

“I think what we’re seeing with the boys is there’s buy-in across the board,” Plumb said. “They’ve bought into the program. They bought into what we’re doing. The days of Drew Kibler, Charles Vaughn even, really helped create a culture, and they were completely bought into the program and what they are. And I still think we’re seeing their leadership and their willingness to go above and beyond high school, taking those international things to that next level. Those guys helped create that culture that exists today on the boys side, and I think we’re seeing that this past season.”

It wasn’t an easy rise to prominence for the Carmel boys, but it also wasn’t an easy season altogether with the COVID-19 pandemic wreaking havoc on everything around the world.

The constant wonder of if or when the season would be canceled was a lot to take, especially when the state championship meet was looming.

“I think once the girls had their meet, I think the boys felt good they were going to have their meet. Again, we wanted to come out (strong), end in that relay, that you 200 medley relay, we won by four hundredths,” Plumb said. “It was really close versus Zionsville. It was exciting. It’s just always a little bit different with the boys. To me, it was the deepest voice thing we’ve ever had. We had everybody swimming, everyone’s swimming in finals almost. The total depth of the boys team is really impressive. Even though we’re national champs, just the way we swam from top to bottom was really impressive.”

And the Carmel boys put their exclamation point on it with a stunning swim to win the 400 free relay, which wasn’t as close as the other two relays.

“It’s always a point of pride for us, that 400 free relay. To have those guys step up it’s huge. The way they closed out, you’ve got to feel really good about that. The one swimmer I felt like … Ryan Malicki’s 100 breaststroke was a huge win for the team, and I know he’s got big plans this year. He was great. (Fifth in country) That was our best swim right there,” Plumb said.

“They stepped up to help each other perform.”

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