Perry swim finishes season on high note, Karolus punches two state tickets

Sean Cordy
Perry's Jaylene Karolus reacts after her 50-yard freestyle race on Saturday, Nov. 7 in Johnston.

Perry had a banner day at Saturday's regional swim meet in Johnston.

Along with the eight personal records among the team and three more school records, a Jayette will represent Perry at the state meet.

Ticket punched

Jaylene Karolus was all smiles when she turned around to see 25.09 seconds on the 50-yard freestyle leaderboard. That not only broke the school record — which she set earlier in the year — it was a drop of .74 seconds and enough to send her to Marshalltown on Saturday, Nov. 14. She wasn't finished.

The junior also shed more time off her school record in the 100 freestyle (55.18 seconds) to etch her name a second time as a state qualifier.

Head coach Jean Dowd said she felt the heavy competition featuring top talent from metro schools like first-place Johnston and second-place Ankeny were factors in pushing Karolus even further than what Perry had ever seen in school history.

"That amount of time at her level of swimming is almost unheard of. Usually, people get like a tenth of a second or a hundredth of a second off," Dowd said about the 50-yard event in particular. "She had a major improvement."

Infectious success

Freshman Sophia McDevitt competes on Saturday, Nov. 7 during the regional swim meet in Johnston.

Karolus wasn't alone in those improvements. The whole team finished fourth overall, the best regional standing for the program since before 2000. That was thanks to a bundle of additional personal records made by the young roster.

Freshman Sophia McDevitt, trying to keep up with the steep competition, earned a sixth place medal in the 200 medley (2:21.68) by dropping three seconds from her previous best. She also took home hardware shared with the sixth place medley relay team (2:09.06) comprised of Amanda Holwegner, Zoe Hibbert and Emily Dowd; and the fifth-place 400 free relay (4:06.86) along with Zoe Hibbert, Jenna Nelson and Karolus.

 "I'm just really thankful that I have really good coaches who can help me figure out how to do stuff like that and get the opportunity to do this," McDevitt told the Perry Chief. "I don't let myself get in my head because I realize it's not about me. It's about my team. So I try my best for not only myself but for them when I realize it's more like a group-thing. It helps to go that much faster."

Jenna Nelson dives in at the start of a race during the regional swim meet on Saturday, Nov. 7 in Johnston.

Jenna Nelson also hit a new milestone as she dropped nearly four seconds from her 200 free (2:22.20) as she held onto 13th overall. After breaking her own record, Nelson agreed with her team that there was an extra boost in sharing the water with some of the state's talents.

Coach knows best

That was a shared feeling throughout the afternoon as all three relay teams broke their own records. Individually, Perry found success in unexpected places. Knowing all of the girls' strengths and potential, Dowd also placed girls in events they've yet to master, only for big moments to come out in return. Such was the case for Zoe Hibbert who after some lighthearted protest for being in the event, swam a second faster in the 100 butterfly (1:12.08).

"They can prove it to themselves. They can learn from (it) and they can also learn from watching other swimmers in the water," Dowd said. "A lot of my girls are technical people. They'll see what they're trying and maybe next year they might try a certain way to do their start."

Emily Dowd also hit a new PR in the 500 freestyle (6:55.54) as did Amanda Holwegner in the 100 breaststroke (1:20.73).

Amanda Holwegner swims on Saturday, Nov. 7 during the regional meet in Johnston.