Jacob Molacek accomplished something Friday during the prelims of the Metro Conference championships that no high school swimmer has been able to do for almost 36 years — swim a 200-yard freestyle faster than Chuck Sharpe.
Molacek swam the fastest 200 free in state history with a time of 1:38.75 at Millard West, blowing past the 1:39.24 Sharpe swam in 1977.
It’s the second swim in six days that has put Molacek at the top of The World-Herald’s all-time charts. At the Feb. 2 Millard South Invitational, the Prep junior finished the 100 breaststroke in 55.92.
Though these were just the prelims to set the fields for Saturday’s consolation and championship finals that begin at 10 a.m. at Millard West, Prep coach Tom Beck said he wasn’t surprised Molacek went so fast.
“He seemed to be just very, very excited to swim,” Beck said. “Every chance he gets to swim, he’s wired in. His approach is always just swim as fast as I can every opportunity. I wasn’t going to change that.”
The 200 free is the only individual event that Molacek is swimming at the Metro meet. He will be a part of all three Junior Jays relay teams that will compete in Saturday’s finals.
Beck said that since Molacek will swim in the 200 medley relay just minutes before the 200 free final, Friday was a good chance to take a shot at the record. He also said that Molacek had several great elements to his 200 Friday, but there’s one big area where he can still improve.
“He had great turns, great distance off the wall,” Beck said. “If anything, he has to improve his pacing because he had too much speed at the start of the race.”
Two of Prep’s top swimmers — sophomore twins Sean and Ryan Tate — aren’t competing in any individual events so that other members of the Junior Jays squad can compete.
“They’re just doing relays tomorrow, and that’s very unselfish of them,” Beck said. “That opened some spots for other guys who might not have state cuts. Sean and Ryan are happy to swim on the relays knowing their big meet is in two weeks.”
Prep swimmers earned 21 berths in the finals with their prelim swims, including four spots in the top eight of the 100 breaststroke with sophomore Ben Kellen, freshmen Jake Hangren and Brian Magee, and junior Karl Schaenzer.
“Overall the guys swam great today and we had a lot of big drops,” Beck said. “It’s very encouraging for the rest of the season. Some of these guys we let up on their training a little earlier so they could be peaked at this meet.”
While Prep has stepped up as the favorite to win the boys title, the girls team championship could go down to the final event as defending champion Millard West, Millard North, Omaha Westside and Omaha Burke all had strong first-day performances.
Millard West senior Erin Oeltjen is the only female swimmer to lead qualifiers in two events as she set the pace in the 100 butterfly (59.00) and the 100 backstroke (1:01.89). Oeltjen’s sophomore teammate, Tara Goss, was second in the 100 back at 1:02.42 and also led all 200 individual medley qualifiers in 2:17.64.
Westside freshman Elizabeth Amato-Hanner lowered her state-leading time in the 100 freestyle to 53.75. Millard North leads the way in two of the three relays, and Burke has the fastest qualifier in the 50 free (Hannah Robison), 500 free (Brooke Holmes) and 100 breaststroke (Jamie Dhabalt).
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