It was a regular dual meet between the dominant Rensselaer Summer Swim Team and the Benton Eels Swim Team at Benton Central High School.
The meet was set to take place at the park pool in Fowler. However, last minute changes forced the meet to be moved to the high school where the environment was swimmable ….. at best.
“The Benton team tried their best to make do with what they had,” 11-12 age group coach Guerby Ruuska said. “It was not the greatest facility and it was not the ideal environment for a big swim meet, but at least we had an opportunity to race, and you can’t complain about that. You have to make the best with what you have. That’s a lot of this sport.”
And that is exactly what 11-12 age division swimmer Ary Nelson did when she jumped in the water to swim the 50-yard breaststroke. Nelson clocked in a stellar 35.30 seconds to win the event, breaking the girls’ 11-12 50 breaststroke team record of 35.62 set back in 2007 by Laura Tonner.
“I didn’t know I was going to break the record,” Nelson said. “I just went out there and swam my best. It was surprising.”
Nelson has been a rising star in the water for the past couple of years after she competed at the Indiana Age Group State meet under the Waves Swim Club. There was no doubt fast swims were coming her way, but was there an alternative motive behind the record breaking swim?
“I may have slightly possibly challenged her by saying if she broke the record then I would buy the team Busy Bee ice cream,” Ruuska recalled. “I remember (RSST coach) Brett (Wielbaker) telling me that if you challenge her with something, she will always go after it. Although, I still saw that record falling regardless. She’s a fighter and she proved that tonight.”
Ruuska believes that this will not be the last time we hear of Nelson’s name rewriting the RSST record board …… and he was right. Last Saturday, Nelson also broke the team record in the 100-yard individual medley and re-broke her own 50 breaststroke record. The IM record was set back in 1996 by Keely Mcllwain in a time of 1:09.74. Nelson clocked in at 1:09.51.
“It’s great that she broke those records early in the season. I think it takes a lot of pressure off of her and everyone else,” Weilbaker said. “Those records have been around for a while so it’s great to see a new crop of swimmers coming through and working hard to get the job done”
Weilbaker believes that the records that have fallen are just a symbol of the work ethic that has been happening this year.
“I honestly believe that this may be the hardest we’ve ever worked in one season all the years I have been around,” Weilbaker said. “It’s showing in our times. All swimmers are swimming fast times and it’s exciting. The Prairie State Swim League Conference Championship meet is coming up and we are already looking explosive.”