Updated: Horejsi is state champion

Published 3:33 pm Saturday, November 17, 2012

Lindsey Horejsi was all smiles after setting the Minnesota state record in the 100-yard breaststroke Saturday in Minneapolis. --Brandi Hagen/Albert Lea Tribune

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MINNEAPOLIS – As she stood on the highest tier of the podium at the Minnesota High School League state swimming and diving tournament she was given a standing ovation and a blue ribbon was placed around her neck to recognize her as the Class A state champion.

Lindsey Horejsi spins around to look at the scoreboard after her first place finish in the 100-yard breaststroke. After seeing her time she pinched her fingers close together signaling to the crowd that she just about accomplished her goal of beating the national record. --Brandi Hagen/Albert Lea Tribune

“Seeing the standing ovation was overwhelming,” three-time state entrant Lindsey Horejsi said. “All of my hard work has paid off and it’s exciting.”

Horejsi, a freshman at Albert Lea High School, set the Minnesota All-time record in the 100-yard breaststroke Saturday at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center in Minneapolis. She swam a time of 1 minute, 0.16 seconds beating her preliminary and seeding times of 1:00.43 and 1:03.31 respectively. None of the other girls in the race even came close to Horejsi. The second-place finisher had a time of 1:03.97.

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“It feels good,” Horejsi said. “I came here for a reason and I accomplished it. I broke the state record and I’m happy.”

Before Horejsi crushed the records, the Minnesota All-time record was held by Abby Duncan of Champlin Park in 2010 with a time of 1:01.08, and the Class A record was held by Olivia McNeely of Visitation in 2008 with a time of 1:04.31.

In addition to the Minnesota records, Horejsi’s time also named her All-American.

Off the starting block, Horejsi had a better start than she did in the preliminaries Friday. Her first split was 28.19 seconds and her second one was 31.97 compared to her preliminary splits of 28.57 and 31.86.

Jon Schmitz wipes away a tear as he watches Lindsey Horejsi climb the podium after becoming Class A state champion in the 100-yard breaststroke. --Brandi Hagen/Albert Lea Tribune

“She’s so confident and it was fun and beautiful to watch,” Tigers’ head coach Jon Schmitz said.

After she made both lengths down the pool, Horejsi spun around in the water to check her time on the scoreboard. And, even though it wasn’t below the national record time that she wanted to beat, Horejsi turned to the familiar faces in the crowd and beamed with a sense of accomplishment. Two different times while she was finding those faces, though, she pinched her fingers together to signal to them that she was “this close” to having everything she wanted.

The national record of 58.75 seconds was set in 2009 by Kasey Carlson of Las Lomas, Calif.

“I was soooo close,” Horejsi said. “I was so close. I was 0.2 seconds from under a minute, but it’s OK. I’m happy with it. There’s nothing I would have changed about the race.”

In hindsight, Horejsi said her turn still needs work, but it’s tough because it’s hard to judge how close she is to the wall and with each race it’s different because the distance and speed changes.

“I was thinking, “Should I glide or should I take half a stroke,'” Horejsi said of the race. “I glided and it was way too long. It is what it is and I’m happy.”

Horejsi’s accomplishment made it the first time in Schmitz’s 25 years of coaching that he left the  girls’ swimming and diving state tournament with a state champion.

“She’s a champ, that’s what it is,” Schmitz said. “I’m just honored to coach her.”

The only person Horejsi was truly racing in the 100-yard breaststroke Saturday was Carlson and she went in to it with confidence.

“I wasn’t worried or anything,” Horejsi said. “I’ve been looking forward to this race all year. And now that it’s over, it’s kind of sad.”

Both of Horejsi’s parents, Mark and Sue, have been a couple of her biggest fans. When she tells them what she wants to accomplish, Mark said they stand behind her 110 percent.

They were more nervous about Saturday’s race than their swimmer was.

“Your heart as a mom feels like it’s going to come out of your chest,” Sue said. “You see her warm up and the tears start coming already – it’s all nerves.”

While Horejsi is OK with not beating the national record Saturday during the state tournament, she isn’t putting it to rest just yet.

“I have junior nationals the first week in December so hopefully I’ll go under a minute there,” she said.

Horejsi has no idea what the next three years of her high school career are going to hold, but she has a goal of making it to the 2016 Olympics.

“Right now, though, I’m focusing on that national record and hopefully I’ll work harder next time and get it,” Horejsi said.