CANTON - They had no intention of settling for being bridesmaids this time around.
The Notre Dame Academy 200-yard freestyle relay team placed second last year in the state swimming championships to Cincinnati Ursuline Academy and was ranked second yesterday after the preliminaries. But the team of Katie Carroll, Elizabeth Harr, Susan Johnson and Ellen Johnson wanted the top spot on the podium.
“That's what we were going after,” Carroll said. The Eagles did what they set out to do, edging out Ursuline by two-hundreths of a second, 1:35.55 to 1:35.57, in the Division I final at the C.T. Branin Natatorium.
“It's a short distance so there's no margin for error,” Carroll said.
The pressure was on for senior Ellen Johnson, who anchored the team.
“There's definitely a lot of adrenaline pumping,” Johnson said.
“Especially because you don't want to let the team down.”
Adrenaline was also key for Susan Johnson. It was off the podium, into the pool to warm down and back onto the starting block in a matter of minutes as the Eagles senior was slated to compete in the championship of the 100-yard backstroke.
Johnson did more than compete, she won.
The Notre Dame swimmer topped defending champion Elaine Ferritto of Upper Arlington and 2001 champion Erin Forster of Centerville, with a time of 0:55.79. Johnson knew Ferritto and Forster would set the pace.
“All I knew was that I needed to stay up with them and keep fighting,” Johnson said. “I didn't expect this at all.”
Johnson, a senior, hasn't competed in backstroke at the high school level since she was a freshman.
“I think that's why I didn't feel any pressure,” she said. “I had nothing to lose.”
The added adrenaline from the relay win didn't hurt either.
“It felt great to come off a win and get right back in,” said Johnson, who took second in the 100 butterfly on Friday. “I think it definitely helped.”
Two-hundreths of a second also meant the difference in the 400-yard freestyle relay. Only this time, Notre Dame had to settle for second. The Eagles finished second to Centerville in the final event of the night, 3:29.04 to 3:29.02 as the Elks led from the start and never looked back.
Carroll, a senior, collected even more hardware as the Eagles senior swam to a second-place finish in the 100-yard freestyle event with a time of 0:51.48, placing second to Cincinnati Anderson senior Megan Tomes with a time of 0:50.48.
Notre Dame finished the meet in fourth place with 173 points. Upper Arlington (259.5) captured its first state championship since the state sanctioned the event 27 years ago.
Carolyn Routh helped the Perkins cause with a fifth-place finish in the 100 freestyle event and anchored the sixth-place 200 freestyle relay team which included Melanie Burns, Jessica Wohl and Abby Koch.
St. Xavier continued its domination in the boys competition, capturing its fifth consecutive championship and 25th overall with 316 points.
St. Francis de Sales was the top-finishing local squad with 50 points for 12th-place.