KNOXVILLE – Five Volunteer swimmers competed Friday and Saturday in the 2020 Tennessee Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association (TISCA) High School State Championship at the Allan Jones Aquatic Center at the University of Tennessee.
Tinsley Whalen, Ellie McLain, Amelia Henriott, Leah Hostetler and Maggie Bice, representing Volunteer High School, competed in six events over two days.
Whalen and McLain swam in two individual events each and joined the others in two team relays – the 200 medley with Henriott and Hostetler, and the 200 freestyle with Henriott and Bice.
Volunteer’s 200 medley relay team, seeded 40th out of 58 in the event, was the first to compete in Friday’s morning preliminaries session. Tinsley Whalen swam the first leg, the backstroke. McLain followed with the breaststroke, followed by Henriott in the butterfly. Hostetler swam the final leg in the freestyle.
Volunteer finished 39th in 2:04.52.
“Friday was so-so,” said Volunteer swim coach Jim Whalen. “I thought our relay team on Friday did about as well as they could. We swam kind of normal. Leah Hostetler did a good job of cutting time on the anchor for us.”
Harpeth Hall was first in 1:45.41.
McLain next swam the 200 individual medley. She was seeded 50th out of 68. She placed 45th, in a time of 2:24.39.
“I thought Ellie did a great job on the 200 IM,” Whalen said. “She cut time in a hard race. She didn’t start out really well on that race, but she finished it really well. She cut just a little under a second on that race.”
Next, Whalen swam her best event, the 50 free. Seeded 26th out of 86, Whalen represented Volunteer’s best shot at making the finals. Unfortunately, trouble at the start and the turn doomed the finish for a less-than-desired time.
For starters, Whalen was placed in Lane 0, against a wall, instead of one of the middle lanes against faster swimmers.
“For us, we were a little disappointed in the 50 with Tinsley,” Coach Jim Whalen said. “It’s like horse racing. She got a bad lane. You want to be in lane 4 or 5. There’s a little physics to it. There’s also the waves that come off somebody, too, and the drag that you hit. The farther you are outside, the more drag that you’re hitting. She was in lane 0 which is the farthest away.”
Not only that, but Whalen’s timing was thrown off when she didn’t hear the signal to get up on the blocks.
“She was the furthest lane away and there were people hollering behind her, so she didn’t hear to jump up (on the block) right away. When she didn’t get up on the blocks the first time, she was kind of rushed,” Whalen said.
Whalen had to dive without her normal time on the blocks, then experienced a mishap on the turn.
“She had a bad turn,” Coach Whalen explained. “She said her foot slipped off the turn and kind of pushed to the side. That added about two-tenths of a second.”
Whalen ended up 26th in a time of 25.56.
“We were wanting to be in the 24’s, so we were a little disappointed there,” Whalen said.
On Saturday, Tinsley’s 100 free was Volunteer’s first event of the day.
Tinsley was seeded 68th out of 118.
“So, we came out Saturday and our goal Saturday was to try and get that 24 on the first 50 of her 100,” Whalen said. “She went out hard and swam like a 26-flat on the first 50, and about a 30 on the second 50. So she swam a (56.99) and she’s never swam a (56.99) before in her life. So she moved up and finished about 47th out of 120 girls.”
Next was Volunteer’s 200 free relay. McLain started things off, followed by Henriott, then Bice, then Whalen. Volunteer was seeded 43rd out of 50 in the event.
“Then we had our 200 free relay team,” Coach Whalen said. “We all had times we wanted to cut. Ellie had a 26 and she threw up a 26. Amelia had a 28 and she threw a 28. Maggie Bice, who had been swimming 31’s all season, threw a 29 up for us. That was huge. And Tinsley went 24.7 on the anchor leg. So we were really pleased with that.”
Volunteer’s final event was the 100 breast, in which McLain was seeded 54th out of 76.
“We got to the 100 breast and I told Ellie, ‘We’ve been kind of holding back on the first 50,’” Whalen said. “I said, ‘Let’s try this: go out on the first 50 and try to throw something like a 32-second up like we did with Tinsley on the last 50, see what happens.’
“She swam a 34 on the first 50, which is where she’s normally been, but she cut time on the second 50. So, she cut time herself, too, on that race,” Whalen said of McLain’s 1:13.84.
“So, we were pleased and tickled about how it ended,” Whalen said. “Out of the six races that we had, I think we cut time or set PR’s on four of them.”