INDIANAPOLIS — As a freshman, Grant Gish impressed New Palestine coach Steve Maxwell enough that the coach stuck him on two lightning-fast relays with juniors Sam Baker and Jake Greig and senior Phillip Webster.
At the 2011 sectional meet, the quartet decimated the field in the 400 freestyle relay, winning by over five seconds. That triumph remains Gish’s favorite high school swimming memory.
“We had a senior on that team, Phil Webster. He was just ecstatic,” Gish said. “It just felt great to win it together and to come to state together. It was an awesome experience.”
The group was also ‘picked up’ in the 200 freestyle relay after taking second in that event at sectional, meaning Gish got to swim in two state races a ninth-grader.
Friday night at the 2014 State Finals in IUPUI Natatorium, Gish swam his lap as a Dragon — and possibly ever.
A year after competing at state in the 200 freestyle, Gish took 30th in the 100 freestyle Friday, timing in at 49.38 seconds. He finished two spots of his seed, and ended his career with a personal-best time.
“It was a memory. Before I swam, coach just told me to do it for all my teammates, do it for everything I’ve done in the past and go out with a personal best, and that’s what I did,” Gish said. “It’s the best I’ve felt at state so far, so it’s definitely satisfying.”
Gish plans to study physical therapy at Indiana University, and believes his swimming days are over — though he didn’t slam the door shut on any future plans. Looking back on his four years, Gish credited Maxwell for making significant strides with him.
“I’ve gotten a lot stronger as a swimmer, especially my starts and turns. That’s just coach Maxwell,” Gish said. “He’s worked on that with me for four years. That’s one of my biggest improvements. I’ve got more endurance now too.”
Tierney, Marauders move quickly
Dixon Tierney was a busy man at his first State Finals.
The Mt. Vernon sophomore swam the third leg in MV’s 200 medley relay and raced in the 200 individual medley as well as the 100 butterfly. Tierney’s day was over quickly — all three of his races took place in the first six events of the night.
“I think it went pretty well,” he said. “I dropped a little time in the IM and I did all right in the 100 fly.”
The 200 medley relay was a rubber match between Greenfield-Central and MV. The Marauders won at the Hoosier Heritage Conference Meet in January. The Cougars rallied for a victory at sectional. Mt. Vernon advanced to the State Finals on a rule that allows for the fastest non-qualifying relays to move on to state in order to bring to number of state entrants in a race to at least 32.
Friday, with the two teams racing next to each other in the first heat, MV grabbed an early lead in the medley relay, but G-C took control on the second leg, winning the heat and placing 21st overall with a time of 1:39.03. The Marauders were third in the heat and 26th overall in 1:39.94.
“We tried to get them, but we didn’t have enough in us,” Tierney. “We’ll try next year.”
Tierney has a list of things he’d like to work on for his junior season.
“Definitely strength and underwaters. I think that’s where I can improve the most,” he said. “I also want to work on my kicking.”
Chesterton leaves mark — again
Chesterton was responsible for four of the five state records broke Friday night: Aaron Whitaker in 100 butterfly, and Blake Pieroni in 100 freestyle, 200 medley relay and the 400 freestyle relay. All four records broken were previously held by the Trojans. Columbus North’s Cody Taylor set the other state record, which came in the 100 breaststroke.
Chesterton is the defending state champion after breaking Carmel’s three-year hold on the state title.