SHORELINE — Jackie Benson’s name is already attached to a pair of school records. Now, the Shorewood senior swimmer wants to make sure it stays there permanently.
Benson continued to put her time in the 100-yard breaststroke well out of reach in 2002, rebreaking her school record one last time at the Class 4A state meet.
She placed a career-best fifth in a time of 1:07.01 and received All-American consideration. Benson also swam a leg on Shorewood’s fifth-place 200 medley relay team that set school records during the state prelims and finals.
With three-fourths of the relay returning this season, Benson hopes to whittle down the school-record time of 1:54.66.
There’s a good chance a third school record will fall if Benson’s marks in the 200 individual medley keep improving.
“I’d like to get the 200 IM this year,” Benson said. “I have less than two seconds to drop. It’s a really fast time.”
Benson took 15th in the individual medley at state last season and Shorewood coach Susie McDowell figures it’s only a matter of time until she eclipses the five-year-old school record of 2:11.82.
“We knew she’d get the breaststroke and the IM has been kind of sitting there,” McDowell said. “We had a conversation about it already. I think definitely it’s going to go down.”
Senior Laura Hill and sophomore Leanne Dull were also part of Shorewood’s medley relay team at state and Hill finished 14th in the breaststroke with a personal-best time of 1:09.72.
“She’s a really strong breaststroker and yet she’s second on our team because of Jackie,” McDowell said of Hill. “She would hold the school record at many places.”
McDowell expects Hill will pick up a second individual event for state and is hopeful Dull will qualify in the 100 backstroke and 100 freestyle.
The Thunderbirds possess another potential state swimmer in junior Hannah DeMeritt.
“Her sprinting has totally picked up,” McDowell said. “Her times are going to drop and she’ll be looking at state.”
Junior diver Kelsey Wright advanced to state last year and senior Rachel Silverstein and freshman Elle MacGeorge round out a strong diving corps.
Shorewood graduated 18 seniors off last year’s team that placed third in the Western Conference 4A South Division behind Kamiak and Jackson.
At first, Benson was concerned the losses might bankrupt the program.
“I thought it was going to be difficult,” she said. “But we’ve got so many good freshmen coming in and a lot of good sophomores, juniors and seniors.”
While Kamiak enters the season as an overwhelming favorite to repeat its league championship, Shorewood and Jackson should claw it out for second.
“Jackson’s a really strong team, so it will be hard to beat them,” Benson said. “But we’ll see.”