Crawfordsville sophomore Alyx Bannon knew she would have to beat North Montgomery junior Sidney Campbell and Southmont senior Jane Scheidler for a sectional title in either the 50 or 100 freestyle.
The duo had won the last six sectional titles in those events over the previous three seasons.
Bannon thought she would put all her effort into the 50 for the sectional, and it paid off.
There was only one problem.
She had beaten Campbell and Scheidler, but South Vermillion freshman Emily Meyer stole the win.
With one last chance for an individual title, Bannon surprised herself with the swim of a lifetime — winning the 100 freestyle with a person best time of 54.08.
“It means a lot knowing that I wasn’t expecting to win that 100,” she said. “Going into the sectional I was going to really work on my 50 and then in the 100 I looked at the board and I was like ‘wow I really gave it 100% on that.’”
During her freshman campaign, Bannon had the opportunity to swim on both the 200 and 400 freestyle relay teams that won sectional titles and advanced to the state finals with seniors Mackenzie Bowen, Emily Humphrey, and Cami McGrady.
Bannon was able to take the mentality she learned from those swimmers and apply it going forward.
“They just loved swimming,” she said. “and now two of them are swimming in college. Just their love for the sport, and even though it can be very hard, to just keep going.”
Humphrey now swims at Valparaiso, and McGrady swims at Butler.
Without a strong core returning, Bannon and coach Hedrick knew a win in either the 50 or 100 freestyle would likely be the best shot at a return trip to state — and a new workout using ‘bucket power towers’ have helped all the Athenian swimmers improve in 2020.
At first many athletes were intimidated by the idea, but they quickly bought in.
“Really nothing has changed,” Crawfordsville coach Kevin Hedrick said. “It was just something that was hard and they didn’t really know much about them. It was mainly education that we did the most of. We had immediate success. We had some kids that did some best times and felt good in the water after doing the buckets.”
Hedrick credits assistant coach Jeff Line for helping with the transition of a new type of workout.
“When you have a coach like Jeff Line that kept track of it for me, and made sure we were doing it scientifically, then it’s easy for kids to buy in when you know what you’re doing, and you have examples,” he said. “‘Hey Lilly King is doing this,’ and a lot of the top-notch swimmers in the world are doing buckets.”
Bannon says the buckets have made a big impact in her swims down the stretch.
“We had the buckets over here, and those definitely helped a bunch,” she said. “They just pushed you for those 30 seconds that you’d be swimming with like 85 pounds on you. And you just had to go hard for that amount of time.”
Bannon is seeded 29th in the 100 freestyle with a time of 54.08.