At her first Horizon League championship meet, freshman Kaitie Ring wasted no time making her presence known to the rest of the league.
Ring, who swam the 100-yard backstroke and 200-yard backstroke, along with the 200-yard freestyle relay, 200-yard medley relay, the 400-yard freestyle relay and the 800-yard freestyle relay, had a meet full of best times.
She swam the 200-yard backstroke in a time of 2:12.56, her best of the season, and had the fastest relay leg of the 400-meter free relay, swimming it in 54.68.
However, her biggest accomplishment of the meet was breaking the Butler school record in the 100-yard backstroke, with a time of 58.94.
“All the adrenaline from being at finals really got me excited,” Ring said. “It was great to have all my teammates and my parents there to cheer me on.”
Ring posted her performance despite several torn tendons in her ankle, an injury that occurred halfway through this season.
“I was definitely worried I wouldn’t be able to come back from that and swim the way I wanted,” she said. “But I worked hard with the rehab and got myself to a place where I knew I could swim fast.”
Butler head coach Maurice Stewart said he was also impressed with Ring’s performance.
“She has overcome great adversity this season with illness and injury, but her determination to succeed helped [Ring] achieve a personal breakthrough,” he said. “It was exciting to watch.”
Freshman Lauren Lambrecht also helped carry the Bulldogs to an eighth-place finish in the conference meet.
She played a key part in the 200-yard freestyle relay, the 200-yard medley relay, the 400-yard freestyle relay and the 800-yard freestyle relay, along with finishing 14th in the 200-yard butterfly.
Her time in the 200-yard butterfly, 2:10.37, is a season best time and the fifth fastest in Butler history.
“I thought it was really cool how they had finals at night,” she said. “It really got my adrenaline going and helped me swim that much faster.”
Kathleen Brannen, a freshman distance specialist, swam in the 500-yard freestyle, 1000-yard freestyle, the mile and several relays.
“The longer races are the toughest because you really have to focus on your race, and not everyone in the lanes next to you,” she said. “You have to learn how to swim in your bubble.”
Brannen finished 20th in the women’s 1000-yard freestyle, with sophomore Kyle Johannsen and freshman Lauren Need close behind her at 26th and 27th, respectively.
Brannen’s time of 10:57.67 in the 1000-yard freestyle was her personal best and one of the five fastest times in Butler history for the event.
Brannen, Need and Johannsen finished 24th, 26th and 27th respectively in the 500-yard freestyle. All three failed to qualify for the finals.
The 400-yard medley relay team of freshmen Regan Girten and Rosalie Fidanze, Need and Johannsen finished eighth with a time of 4:21.54.
The 800-yard freestyle relay team would have recorded an eighth-place finish had it not been for a disqualification. The team of Brannen, Need, Lambrecht and Ring swam a time of 8:18.59.
The team was happy with its performance.
“You always want to finish better than eighth, but I think this is a great place to start with a really young team,” Lambrecht said. “We’ve already started recruiting some fast girls for next year, so our goal will be to beat this year’s finish next year.”
Brannen, along with Ring and Lambrecht, will be asked to take on more of a leadership role next season.
“The competition was really fast this year,” Brannen said. “I thought we had some good swims, but hopefully we can get better in the offseason and come back next year and improve on this year.”
Stewart said that the Horizon League Championships were an eye-opening experience for the young Butler team.
“This team will definitely improve as they gain experience and awareness of what to expect at future conference championships,” he said. “The future will be a successful one for Butler swimming.”