The student news publication of Libertyville High School

Drops of Ink

The student news publication of Libertyville High School

Drops of Ink

The student news publication of Libertyville High School

Drops of Ink

Boys lacrosse wins first playoff game against Grant
Letter to the reader 2024
Personal Finance 101

The Fab Four

Korina Valenzuela
The relay team from left to right: Staci Herchenbach, Emma Richert, Macey Neubauer, and Meredith Robbins.

What can you do in a minute and 48 seconds?

Maybe post a picture on Instagram, brush your teeth, or microwave your macaroni and cheese. There’s not much you can do in that short of time, but four of the varsity swimmers manage to swim 200 yards in that time.

The 200-medley relay team is made up of four talented, dedicated, and hard-working girls all striving for the same goal of success. The relay consists of all four strokes, one after the other. Sophomore Meredith Robbins starts off the race in the water, swimming backstroke. Next to pounce off the block is junior Macey Neubauer, swimming breaststroke. As Neubauer touches the wall, junior Staci Herchenbach jumps off the block swimming butterfly. Finally, the newest addition and anchor of the team, sophomore Emma Richert, slices through the water swimming freestyle.

Individually, these four girls are the fastest on the varsity team at their respective strokes. However, as good as those times may be, the odds of them placing high individually at the state meet are lower than the 200-medley relay. For most relay teams, it’s very difficult to find four swimmers with top times because most schools only have one or two swimmers with the top time at state. Therefore, when combined as one, their skills and motivation make the LHS relay team a force to be reckoned with.

“The idea that collectively they can do more than any of them can do individually, it’s kind of cool,” said varsity head coach Mr. Erik Rogers.

As of now, the relay team is ranked first in state, an impressive achievement for the girls. So far this season, they placed second against Fremd and first in their last four  dual meets, against St. Viator, Vernon Hills, Lake Forest, and Zion-Benton.

The previous year was the start of the 200-medley relay for three out of the four girls: Neubauer, Herchenbach, and Robbins. According to Coach Rogers, the team was discovered by accident after trying out different combinations of swimmers. When they tested Neubauer, Herchenbach, Robbins, and Sophia Lex, they rose to the occasion, swimming only tenths off the pool record.

“It just caught us totally by surprise. After that happened, we [the coaches] were like, there might be something here,” said Rogers, laughing.

The 200-medley relay team placed ninth at state, finishing off their year with a bang.

After Lex, the former freestyle swimmer on the relay team, graduated, Coach Rogers had to find a replacement.

The search for a strong freestyle swimmer began. Coach Rogers tried out several girls in order to find the right fit. The race finally came to an end when Richert swam freestyle in the relay. She has become a great addition to their team, helping continue the winning streak.

“She [Richert] has stepped up and swam really well every single time in the relay,” Neubauer boasted.

What differentiates their relay team from others is that although they push each other to do better, there is no competition between them.

“I think that we work well together because on the other relays, it’s really competitive on who’s going to be first or who’s going to be last and anchor. For us it’s always the same spots and we’re all in different strokes so it’s not competitive between us. [For us] it’s working towards this one goal of making this time better,” said Robbins.

The relay team attributes their success to the many hours they dedicate at practice. Their usual practice schedule consists of eight practices a week, before and after school, for around two to three hours. Three sessions out of the eight, the team lifts weights to build strength. On the other days, they’re in the pool practicing starts, turns, and other skills that have to do with racing. Mr. Rogers doesn’t believe that’s the only thing that is important, though.

“When you’re racing, you’re going to hurt, and the person next to you is going to hurt, and a lot of times, it’s who can handle that pain better is who ends up winning. So a lot of what we’re doing here is building mental toughness,” Mr. Rogers explained.

One important thing the girls do before each race is huddle together and mentally prepare themselves.

“We [the 200 medley relay team] always huddle together before to say like, ‘This is a big meet, we’re gonna do awesome’ or ‘We’re gonna kick butt.’ After, we always hug cause it’s really exciting,” said Herchenbach.

One part of the meets the girls especially love is their cheering section. According to Richert, her teammates and the parents are all very supportive of their success.

“It’s crazy during the meets. Everyone stands and cheers; the entire team is going crazy,” said Richert.

Being on the relay team can be a ton of fun, but it also comes with a lot of pressure. Sectionals is one of the most important races of the season other than state. Swimmers have one chance to get the time they need to qualify for state and if they don’t, then they can’t go. This year, Sectionals is on November 15, a week before state.

“If we get disqualified at Sectionals, we could not swim at state. You only get one chance, even if you already have the time. That’s why sectionals is so intense because even if you swim horrible at state, you still made it to state,” said Robbins.

With that in mind, the girls work extremely hard to prepare themselves before sectionals and state. Last year’s goal was just to place at state. This year, their goals have increased.

“We’re hoping to do top three in state. At the beginning, our goal was top six, but now it’s definitely top three,” exclaimed Herchenbach.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

Drops of Ink intends for this area to be used to foster healthy, thought-provoking discussion. Comments are expected to adhere to our standards and to be respectful and constructive. As such, we do not permit the use of profanity, foul language, personal attacks, or the use of language that might be interpreted as libelous. Comments are reviewed and must be approved by a moderator to ensure that they meet these standards. Drops of Ink does not allow anonymous comments, and we require a valid email address. The email address will not be displayed but will be used to confirm your comments.
All Drops of Ink Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Activate Search
The student news publication of Libertyville High School
The Fab Four