Edina senior Kelli McCarthy, as the state’s best distance freestyler, has grown accustomed to touching the wall first.
But the Hornets captain has taken on a more vested interest this season in what transpires behind her. McCarthy’s younger sister, seventh-grader Katie, is also competing in Kelli’s specialty — the 500-yard freestyle.
The sister combination will be one of three the Hornets have participating in the girls’ swimming and diving state meet this weekend. Kelli, a Gophers recruit, will be finishing her high school state meet career while Katie will be making her debut.
“It’s going to be fun being my last state meet and her first,” Kelli McCarthy said. “I’m going to cherish every minute of it.”
The state meet begins Thursday with the diving preliminaries at the Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center on the University of Minnesota campus. The swimming preliminaries will be held Friday and the finals Saturday.
Kelli McCarthy is the Class 2A two-time defending state champion in the 500-yard freestyle, posting a winning time of 4 minutes, 52.03 seconds last year. She also swam a leg on the Hornets’ victorious 200 and 400 freestyle relays a year ago.
“Kelli started out as a very good swimmer,” Edina coach Jeff Mace said. “She has improved every year to become the elite swimmer that she is now.”
Kelli McCarthy won the 500 freestyle in the Section 6 meet by nearly five seconds, clocking in at 5:00.47. Katie was fifth with a personal-best time of 5:10.20, bettering the state meet qualifying standard (5:13.33) by over three seconds.
“Katie swam really fast,” her sister said. “It was like a nine-second drop from her best time. I’m so proud of her to make it as a seventh-grader.”
What kind of advice will Kelli give her younger sibling for the state event.
“I let her do her own thing, and figure it out herself,” Kelli McCarthy said. “She’s very independent, and knows how to handle herself.”
The other two sister combinations appearing in the state meet for the Hornets are senior Raime Jones, the defending 100 freestyle champion, and eighth-grader Eason, and senior Sophie Clarkowski and sophomore Nora. The Hornets also had six other pairs of sisters on this year’s squad.
“We’ve had a lot of sisters on our team throughout the years,” Mace said. “We have sister relay teams during the season, and really promote it.”
The Hornets contingent will be looking to successfully defend its team title as well. Edina has won the crown 14 times.
“When I was in eighth grade I didn’t know how big high school swimming would be for me,” said Kelli McCarthy, who made her initial appearance in the state meet that year. “I have so many memories. I’m going to miss it.”
Visitation best in 1A?
Visitation, seeking its fifth consecutive team title and ninth since 2005, is the big favorite among small schools because of its depth. But Hutchinson beat the Blazers in a dual meet this season.
Blake junior Madison Potter will try to win back-to-back titles in both the 100 butterfly and 200 individual medley.