Senior diver Brady Carrigan and junior swimmer Keegan Henning both competed in the Class AA state swimming and diving meet this past weekend at the Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center on the University of Minnesota's campus. It was both their first times competing at the state tournament as Carrigan took part in the one-meter dive and Henning swam the 500-yard freestyle. Both said they were overcome with emotion when they realized they had qualified.
"It was just pure excitement," Carrigan said. "My goal from when I started was to go to state at least one time in my four years on the team. Just knowing all my hard work paid off was really rewarding."
"At first disbelief because I didn't think I was gonna go that fast, but then a bunch of joy knowing my training and hard work had finally paid off," Henning said.
Heading into the state meet, as a senior Carrigan said he wanted to do well but really just wanted to have fun and enjoy his experience. Henning, however, had a concrete goal in mind. He was chasing the school record for the 500 freestyle which was held by a former coach of his, but he did not quite reach it.
"I was 0.2 seconds off from my prelims time, so my goal going into finals was to drop a little bit more, but I wasn't able to do it," Henning said.
Henning swam a time of 4 minutes, 41.91 seconds in the preliminaries at state, which was good for 10th and to qualify him for the consolation finals. In the consolation finals he swam a 4:42.58 and finished 14th overall between the championship and consolation finals.
Both Carrigan and Henning sported bleach blonde hair at the state meet, which is not an unusual sight in postseason swimming and wrestling meets.
"Honestly, I have no idea where it started," Carrigan said about the tradition. "It's just been passed down for years and years. I've heard from people who graduated like 20 years ago tell me the swim and dive team always bleached their hair before their sections meet. And we don't force anyone to do it of course, but it's just a fun way to bond with each other."
Carrigan took 31st in the diving preliminaries with a score of 101.40, just 0.8 points behind the diver in front of him, and did not advance to the semifinals. His score would have been much better, but he suffered a mishap on one dive that resulted in an awkward landing and a messed up score.
"I thought I did really well my first three dives. I was hitting them pretty well," he said. "My fourth and fifth dives were not very good but again, I was just there to enjoy the experience and have fun. My reverse double started really well, almost too well. I spun really fast and just lost where I was. It also didn't help that I kicked my legs out in front of me instead of right below me. But landing over is also a good thing because now I know that I can challenge myself and do that dive with one more half rotation, making it a reverse two-and-a-half. Not the best time to find that out, but oh well."
Despite their results, both said that the they thought they were performing their best during sections and the state meet. Henning said he will continue to swim during the offseason in preparation for next season, focusing primarily on his flip turns. Meanwhile, Carrigan said he is still deciding on what he will do this summer. He said he usually does club diving but might take some time off, citing the constant work of the past five years. But he did mention he might focus on weight training and diving on his own during that down time.