Love is all you need. — The Beatles “All You Need Is Love”
Saturday was a day to dust off the notebook and actually GO to cover a high school sports event.
For one full year, COVID-19 canceled almost the whole cavalcade of Hawaii prep sports, leaving athletes without competition and writers with not a ton of live action to write about.
Elijah Abramo, my 21-year-old son and a senior at Chaminade, came with me to take photos at the ILH swimming and diving championships.
Within minutes after arriving at the Punahou pool Saturday, Buffanblu coach Jeff Meister pointed us in the right direction for story ideas, letting us know that Le Jardin’s Alana Barthel was about to line up for the 100-yard backstroke final.
It turns out Barthel is working diligently to try to make the cut for the 100- and 200-meter backstroke for June’s Olympic Trials in Omaha, Neb. The Tokyo Olympics are a month later, and she’s hoping to get there.
Le Jardin’s Alana Barthel is off to UC San Diego next year and is working on making it to the Olympic Trials this summer. (Bedrock Sports Hawaii photo by Elijah Abramo).
According to Le Jardin coach Joe Glenn, Barthel is about a second off the Olympic Trials 100-meter standard of 1:02.69 and about three seconds off the 200-meter standard of 2:14.69.
“She’s been chipping away for the last couple of years,” Glenn said.
Barthel will compete in the International Swimming Coaches Association Senior Cup in Tampa, Fla., next Sunday.
“She’s on a pretty good improvement curve,” Glenn added. “It’s not like we’ve had a lot of meets, so it’s kind of hard to know exactly where she’ll be at.”
The fact that the ILH held a championship meet is a huge achievement in these COVID-19 days.
Barthel will have to adjust to a different-sized pool. Hawaii high schools use a shorter length pool — about 25 yards. At the meet in Florida (and, if she gets there, the Olympic Trials), the pool will be 50 meters.
In addition, Barthel will be swimming on scholarship at UC San Diego next year.
“I’m super psyched for going over there,” she said. “I went to visit back in August, when school was online. No one was on campus, but it was really nice to get a feel for it. I loved it over there.”
In Friday’s prelims, Barthel broke her own ILH 100-yard backstroke record — 54.92. And then on Saturday, she won the event in 55-17.
Le Jardin’s Alana Barthel cuts through the water on the way to victory in the 100 backstroke final, with Punahou’s Andrea Zeebe right behind. (Bedrock Sports Hawaii photo by Elijah Abramo).
Barthel, who is a two-time state champion and four-time league titlist in the 100 backstroke, will not get a chance to go for a third state crown due to COVID-19. She also became a two-time ILH winner in the 100 freestyle on Saturday — in 52.04.
Punahou’s girls scored the team victory, notching 85 points. Second-place Kamehameha was far behind with 49, and Le Jardin — a school with just 240 students — took third with 44.
Individual event winners for the Buffanblu girls were Andrea Zeebe in the 200 individual medley (2:04.44), Leila Nasrallah in the 100 butterfly (57.27), and Kai Flanagan in the 500 freestyle (5:03.04).
In addition, Punahou’s 400 freestyle relay team of Flanagan, Nasrallah, Sophia Hurd and Zeebe was victorious in 3:33.39, and the Buffanblu’s 200 medley relay squad of Elena Tanaka, Zeebe, Nasrallah and Flanagan won in 1:47.66.
A coach’s arms frame Punahou’s Andrea Zeebe after the she finished off the anchor leg of a victory in the 400 freestyle relay. Kai Flanagan, Leila Nasrallah and Sophia Hurd swam the first three legs. (Bedrock Sports Hawaii photo by Elijah Abramo).
In the 76 seasons since ILH girls swimming began in 1946, the Buffanblu have won the league championship 68 times, including the last seven in a row from 2014 through 2021 (excluding the canceled 2020 edition).
Meister has been the head coach for 22 of those titles — from 1990 through ’97, 1999, 2006 through ’11, 2014 through ’19, and 2021.
ALSO AT BedrockSportsHawaii.com: A Pile Of Underclassmen Push ‘Iolani Boys To ILH Swimming Championship
See below for final results of the 2021 ILH swimming and diving championships.
Note: League officials are waiting on the final diving results to come in, but it is not expected to change the team standings.