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Sacred Heart celebrates record-breaking day

LOUISVILLE — Ellen Williamson summed up the day simply, but perfectly: "Records are meant to be broken."

The Notre Dame swimmer did just that Saturday. The junior played a part in breaking two individual records and one team record in a day filled with tumbling state marks at the Pannell Swim Shop/ KHSAA state championships.

In all, four state records, including one tied for the state's oldest, fell on Saturday at the Ralph Wright Natatorium.

Even with Williamson's big effort, the Pandas only finished third overall.

The day belonged to Sacred Heart, which won the team competition with its collective 425.5 points, toppling five-time defending state champion Manual by 95 points.

"It's a great day to be a Valkyrie," Coach Jim Luebbe said of SHA, which got individual winners in Kelsey Buese in the 500-yard freestyle and Miranda Mercke in the 100-yard breaststroke.

"The thing I admire about these girls the most is how they can work and have fun at the same time," he said.

The state tournament ended in a fun way for Paul Laurence Dunbar's Kristen Wilson, too.

The senior won her fifth straight state title in the 50-yard freestyle, besting Manual's Caroline Thomas by six one-hundreths of a second, 23.56 to 23.62.

Wilson said she was nervous before the race but tried to use that to push herself.

"I knew if I just swam my hardest and kicked it, I had a good chance of winning," she said. "So I just buried my head and went for it."

But it was a bittersweet day for the senior.

"I don't think it's even hit me yet that this is my last time," Wilson said.

Wilson finished third in the 100-yard freestyle to Beechwood's Krissie Brandenburg, who fell just shy of breaking her own record.

Dunbar ended the state meet in fifth place, followed by four other top-15 area schools: Lexington Catholic (eighth), Madison Central (ninth), Henry Clay and Model (tied for 14th).

Another girl from Lexington had a big day, too.

Lafayette sophomore Rebecca Hamperian won the state diving title, a full 22 points ahead of Ryle's Meredith Browne.

Manual's girls won both the 200- and 400-yard freestyle relays. The Crimsons set a state record with their 200 time of 1:35.16.

But on a day of records falling, Williamson was the one with the most.

In the first race of the day for the girls, the Pandas broke a 6-year old state record in the 200-yard medley relay.

"We got the record and it's just crazy," she said. "The four people on that relay are extremely fast and we're all juniors and below so we're going to try to make it even faster."

With her time of 2:04.41, the junior also broke a 17-year-old record set by fellow Panda Michele Shroder. Williamson also toppled her own state record from last year in the 100-yard butterfly.

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