Mark Schmetzer reports:
Zoe Thatcher didn’t realize she’d just broken a Division I girls’ district swim meet record until she was standing on the award-winners’ podium.
She didn’t realize the total magnitude of the accomplishment until she stepped down after receiving her medal.
The Mason junior broke the meet’s longest-standing record, winning the 200-yard freestyle in 1:47.59 to just squeeze past the 1:48.00 logged by Finneytown’s Buffy Krieger in 1984.
She didn’t know the record had been set long before she was born until it was mentioned to her minutes later.
“I didn’t even realize I broke the record until they said something while I was getting my medal,” said Thatcher, clutching a stuffed purple-blue “Sulley” character from the Disney movie “Monsters, Inc.” – a tribute to Mason coach Mark Sullivan. “Sometimes I think it’s better if you don’t know until later. Then you can be like, ‘Oh, wow.’
“This is probably the biggest record I’ve ever broken,” she added.
Thatcher also broke the meet’s most recent record, the 500 freestyle mark she set last year. Thatcher, the defending 500 freestyle district and state champion, knocked 3.46 seconds off the previous record, finishing in 4:47.26.
“I’m very happy,” she said. “I just wanted to swim my fastest. The record is a bonus.”
Thatcher helped lead the Comets to what coach Mark Sullivan said is the program’s first district championship. They eased past Centerville, 321-302.5, at Miami’s Corwin M. Nixon Aquatics Center, breaking Ursuline’s two-year hold on the title.
Finishing third in the meet-opening 200 medley relay with the team of junior Maureen Sullivan, freshmen Jordan Decker and Abbey Esler and sophomore Julia Volpenehein got Mason’s night started on the right foot, Sullivan said.
“Actually, the divers got us started the other night,” said Sullivan, voted by his peers as the district Coach of the Year. “These types of meets can go either way. We figured top three. When we saw that medley relay’s performance, we figured we’d be 1-2.”
Ursuline junior Alisabeth Marsteller matched Thatcher’s twin titles, winning the 200 individual medley and 100 freestyle. Marsteller, who finished second in the district and fifth in the state in the 200 IM last season, finished in 2:01.24, falling short of one goal while reaching another.
“I got out fast,” Marsteller said. “I was excited to be in the race. That set me up, and seeing I was ahead gave me confidence.”
Marsteller was pleasantly surprised at swimming the 100 freestyle in 50.31.
“I switched out of that to do the 100 backstroke last year, so I was really interested in seeing how I’d do,” Marsteller said. “I exceeded my expectations.”
Marsteller swam the anchor leg on two Ursuline record-setting relay teams, the 200 freestyle with junior Temarie Tomley and seniors Gabrielle Young and Bridget Young and the 400 freestyle with senior Abby Wu, junior Emily Slabe and Tomley.
The top two swimmers and relay teams in each event automatically qualified for the state meet next week at C.T. Branin Natatorium in Canton. Division I boys’ and girls’ preliminary competition is scheduled for Friday at 9 a.m. with the finals set for Friday at 4 p.m.
The next-fastest 16 swimmers from all of the combined district meets statewide also qualified for the state meet.