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Heinen hopes to make a splash at state swim meet

Kaitlin Heinen has been methodically sinking records at Superior High School since joining the girls swim team two years ago as a freshman. She tops the all-time list in five individual events and owns a host of pool records. "But I haven't reall...

SHS
Superior's Kaitlin Heinen smiles before getting doused with water before practice on Wednesday afternoon. Heinen has qualified for state in both the 200 and 500 yard freestyle. (Jed Carlson/jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)

Kaitlin Heinen has been methodically sinking records at Superior High School since joining the girls swim team two years ago as a freshman.

She tops the all-time list in five individual events and owns a host of pool records.

"But I haven't really set any records (this year)," Heinen said. "The only one I got this year was the 200 free pool record, so I'd like to see a few more."

Heinen will be trying for a pair of school records Saturday at the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Girls Swimming and Diving Championships in Madison. Heinen qualified for the state meet with victories in the 200-yard freestyle and the 500-yard freestyle at last week's sectional meet in Hudson.

At sectionals, the Spartan junior was seeded well ahead of the nearest competition in both individual events. She ended up winning the 200 freestyle by five seconds and the 500 freestyle by nearly 11 seconds.

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"Eleven seconds is almost the length of the pool," said George Lehman, SHS swim coach. "It's way out there."

Heinen won both events easily, but Lehman said she is capable of putting forth better times.

"We swam conservatively at sectionals," Lehman said. "Theoretically, if she maintains the paces we've been working on, she could be in the area of 5:00 to 5:10."

Heinen enters Saturday's meet with a seed time of 1:58.06 in the 200 freestyle and 5:18.92 in the 500 freestyle.

Waukesha South/Mukwonago senior Kaersten Meitz leads the 500 freestyle field with a qualifying time of 4:52.59. Meitz is the defending champion in the event.

In the 200 freestyle, senior Abby Jagdfeld, also of Waukesha South/Mukwonago, returns to defend her 2012 title. She set a new state record last year and holds the fastest qualifying time this year at 1:47.67.

Heinen hopes to earn points in both of her events at state. The top 16 finishers in each event score points.

"The heats she's in, everybody is swimming within a very small window -- within a second and a half, two seconds," Lehman said. "So we talked it over and just figured she has to go out and try to win her heat."

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This will be Heinen's second trip to the WIAA Division 1 state swim meet.

As a freshman, she became the first Spartan girl in 13 years to advance to state in an individual event.

She improved upon her times in her sophomore year, setting school records in the 200 and 500 freestyle events, but she finished one place below the cutoff for state.

"It was so hard because I'd improved on my times. ... I kind of thought that I'd made it," Heinen said. "I think about it this year and use it to motivate me in the hard practices when I'm really tired."

Heinen upped her practice schedule considerably this season. She swam faster intervals, practiced longer and increased her daily yardage.

"This year she's been doing three two-a-day practices each week," Lehman said. "We had her yardage way up, right around 11,000 yards each of those days. That's about 6 ¼ miles on those days, which in a pool is a long way."

For her "easy" practices, Heinen averaged 6,000 to 7,000 yards -- between 3 and 4 miles.

On average, Heinen put in more than 25 miles per week.

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"She's swimming pretty much distances and intervals that would be typical of a college swimmer in a competitive program," Lehman said.

Heinen also joined the Lake Superior Swim Club to keep up her workouts during the offseason.

She takes the spring off to play softball, but after the final pitch she's right back in the pool.

"I think I would go crazy" without swimming, Heinen said. "Like right now, I've been tapering for a couple of weeks and I have way too much energy. I go home and I'm just hyper."

This weekend, Heinen is hoping that extra energy will help her topple a few more school records.

"My times weren't quite where I wanted them to be compared to last year," Heinen said. "I'd like to see a drop this weekend for sure."

SPARTAN SPIN: Heinen holds SHS records in the 100 backstroke, 100 butterfly, 200 individual medley, 200 freestyle and 500 freestyle. She was also a member of the record setting 200 and 400 freestyle relays in her freshman year. ... In the 500 freestyle, Heinen's career best is 5:16.07, set at the 2012 sectional meet. Her best time in the 200 freestyle is 1:57.91, also set at the 2012 sectionals.

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