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Written By StaceyPageOnline / Sports on Monday, November 19, 2018

Warsaw’s Delaney Wihebrink, right, hugs friend Abby McCarter of Rochester after the finals of the IM at last year’s Warsaw Girls Swim Sectional. (File photo by Mike Deak)

WARSAW – Most swimmers would have been a mess on the deck after a sectional loss. All the work in the offseason, all the two-a-days, the hundreds of miles prepping for the conference and sectional tourneys.

Warsaw Community High School senior Delaney Wihebrink may have shed a tear or two after last year’s sectional. But it wasn’t simply because she lost. It was because she was learning about winning.

“Losing to Abby didn’t hurt me, I always have fun competing against her,” Wihebrink said of a pair of sectional losses to then-Rochester star Abby McCarter. “We swam against each other a lot and we’re friends. She pulled me along even in those losses, and I still had a time good enough to get to state and I broke the school records. I just looked at her and said ‘good job, you got me.’ But I still had the record, and felt good about what I did. And felt good for Abby winning.”

Quite a statement from a swimmer who has been accustomed to winning. After winning both the 200 individual medley and the backstroke as a sophomore, Wihebrink found herself in the IM and breaststroke finals as a junior. In both cases, Wihebrink was paired against McCarter. And in both cases, McCarter set school records to knock off Wihebrink. For the Warsaw junior, however, she also was in record-setting mode. Her time of 1:06.19 in the breaststroke was the finest in Warsaw program history, and scored Wihebrink an at-large appearance at the IHSAA State Finals.

The two relays Wihebrink also helped motor along set records as well, the medley relay posting a 1:50.91 and the 200 free relay a 1:40.34. Those three school records meant as much, possibly more, than the state appearances.

“I put together my best swims of the year at the end of the year when it matters most, and that’s what we tell the younger girls all the time,” Wihebrink said. “You can’t win sectionals in December, but you can work hard in December. Those races against Abby in the sectional, I may not have won them, but I dropped a crap-ton of time and broke the school record in the breaststroke, and our relays also set records.”

Wihebrink noted she enters her senior season without a definite set of swim assignments, rather hoping to iron that out early and fill in where coach Tony DeBrota needs her skill sets. The Grand Valley State University commit said she likely will also fill in as needed at the next level, so her senior season isn’t going to be based on competing for attention.

Something that also has helped ease her mind.

“Junior year I had so much on my plate and I think that got into my head a little bit,” admitted Wihebrink. “Trying to get college figured out and if I was going to swim or not, I was stressed out about it. Looking back, it did take a toll on me in the pool. And when you swim against someone like Abby McCarter, well, she will beat you when you’re not on your game.”

Wihebrink headlines what will be an experienced core of swimmers for the Tigers. Olivia Herman, Gracie Scholl and Gracie Willig are among those that should impact immediately, and DeBrota said he could point to another dozen or so he’s excited to see get going.

“Great turnout on preseason,” started DeBrota. “A lot of kids got a good head start, so we can really hit the ground running early on for the regular season. Numbers on swim/dive are consistent with last year, dang near the same I believe. We have so many I see making a positive impact both with performance and attitude.

“Instead of saying ‘this was a successful (meet/week/season/etc)’, you may hear me say “this was a fun…” instead. Warsaw has got a great group of girls on this team. It’s going to be a fun season.”

Warsaw begins its competition season Saturday on the road at Wawasee.

Posted In: Girl's Sports > Swimming and Diving