Chart toppers: Top swimmers and divers
Area swimmers and divers to watch, courtesy Tony Bleill
Audrey Rodawig, Centennial
She's a multi-event standout, but Rodawig probably is best in the 100-yard butterfly. Her top time is 57.27 seconds, and that's a range that puts her in the mix to earn a spot in the six-person championship finals at state. (A year ago, the sixth-place finisher swam 57.13 in the final.) She's also tops in the 200 free (1:54.49), which if repeated at the sectional would easily qualify her for state.
Hannah Newman, Champaign Central
Older sister Emma, The News-Gazette's 2010 Swimmer of the Year, has moved on, but Hannah has adjusted just fine, thank you. She's a factor in every event she swims, from freestyle sprints to butterfly to backstroke. As for the postseason, the butterfly seems a given (previously a state qualifier), as well as relays, and perhaps the 200 free.
Gabi Rajic, Urbana
As versatile a swimmer as you'll find in the area, Rajic is highly ranked in the freestyle, backstroke and breaststroke. A sophomore, Rajic is part of Urbana's solid 200 free relay squad that figures to battle Central in a spirited sectional race. Rajic went to state last fall in the 100 free, but she's arguably the area's best breaststroker.
Kristin Verkler, Danville
Strong all-around competitor, which is why she's at the top of the Honor Roll chart in the 200 individual medley at 2:21.03, just ahead of Rajic. Her best shot at a state berth likely lies in the butterfly, where her 2011 best time (1:00.77) is just off the state qualifying standard (59.40).
Katherine Penwell, Central
She's part of a deep Maroons team that gets quality scoring from Sara Fundator, Sarah McGill and Margaret Goldsmith, among others. Penwell, McGill, Fundator and Newman make up a crackerjack 200 medley relay, which won the Charger Invitational title in 1:55.17.