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Omaha Creighton Prep's Rush Clark breaks his own state record in state swimming prelims

Omaha Creighton Prep's Rush Clark breaks his own state record in state swimming prelims

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LINCOLN — Rush Clark and Tommy Palmer took turns posting all-time performances in the preliminary rounds of the boys state swimming championship meet Friday.

Clark’s marks ended up high on The World-Herald’s all-time Top 10 lists. First the Florida State recruit from Omaha Creighton Prep lowered his own state record in the 100-yard butterfly, lowering the standard from 47.54 to 47.21 before a capacity crowd at the Devaney Center Natatorium.

Next was the 100 backstroke, an event in which Clark has been making big strides the past year. So when he touched first in 49.11 to move from No. 8 to No. 2 all-time, the crowd showed its appreciation for his drop of 0.88 seconds from the 49.99 he posted Feb. 15 at the Metro Conference championships.

Then there was that leadoff leg on shaky legs in the 100 freestyle. Clark admitted after the race he was exhausted after the backstroke because he had little time to rest, but he still debuted at No. 4 all-time with his 45.14.

Creighton Prep coach Tom Beck said he’s confident Clark can post even faster times in Saturday’s finals. The consolation and championship races in both the boys and girls meets are scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. and will be broadcast on NET.

Rush Clark

Omaha Creighton Prep's Rush Clark lowered his own state record in the 100-yard butterfly, moving from No. 8 to No. 2 all-time in the 100 backstroke.

“He had a really good day because he posted lifetime bests in all of his 100s,” Beck said. “He has some higher goals, and he wants to go faster, so he’s looking forward to tomorrow.”

Clark echoed Beck’s sentiments and wants to make his final day as a high school swimmer a memorable one.

“Today was about getting into the finals, and tomorrow is about releasing the beast,” Clark said. “I was probably happiest with my 100 free because I was so tired coming off the 100 back. The bigger I get and more muscle I put on; I need more rest between races.

“Tomorrow I will get more time between events with the consolation and girls races, the interviews and medal presentations.”

Whether or not Clark leads off or swims another leg on Prep’s 400 free relay Saturday is a decision Beck said is still to be determined.

What Clark did Friday was put together one of the most impressive individual days in the history of the state meet. But it also is noteworthy when a sophomore like Palmer cracks the Top 10 lists in the two sprint freestyle.

Marks that fast usually don’t happen until boys are juniors or seniors. But Palmer is a different breed of swimmer, one who isn’t concerned with what others think about his approach to racing. He finds a way to keep long days on the deck fun.

That approach helped Lincoln Southwest’s Palmer, for the first time in his career, post a 50 freestyle time below 21 seconds and a 100 free below 46 seconds on the same day.

Palmer opened his day with a 20.71 in the 50 free, allowing him to debut at No. 8 all-time. Then came the 100 free and a lifetime best performance of 45.66.

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At that moment Palmer was No. 9 on the all-time 100 free list, just ahead of former Ralston star P.J. Wiseman. But about one hour after Palmer’s performance, Clark dropped his 45.14 to push Palmer to No. 10 and Wiseman off the all-time list.

There were good and bad — mostly good — elements to both of those races that many in Palmer’s camp were quick to point out to him, especially with his 50 free.

“I took two breaths instead of one, and I know I have to fix that,” Palmer said. “(Southwest coach) Ross (Mueller), my parents and other people were telling me how good my underwaters were. I don’t usually hear that from them, so that was nice.”

Palmer did get a long distance critique from his sister Alana, a former Southwest star who still owns the state’s 200 freestyle record and recently helped Wisconsin win the 800 freestyle relay at the Big Ten championship meet.

“She was watching from Wisconsin and told me to just take one breath instead of two,” Palmer said. “That’s something I can fix. I think I just had that race from the start.”

Palmer is adjusting to being the swimmer others are trying to chase down instead of being the hunter like he was as a freshman.

“It’s definitely something different,” Palmer said. “I know these guys are all out there trying to get me, so it makes me work that much harder.

“I can only get better tomorrow.”

Championship qualifiers

200-yard medley relay: 1, Omaha Creighton Prep (John Watson, Ethan Schmaderer, Matthew Ahlgren, Drew Kaelin), 1:35.79. 2, Norfolk, 1:36.64. 3, Lincoln Southwest, 1:36.70. 4, Omaha Westside, 1:36.72. 5, Elkhorn/Elkhorn South, 1:37.40. 6, Papillion-La Vista/PLV South, 1:37.70. 7, Lincoln Pius X, 1:37.74. 8, Omaha Central, 1:38.26.

200 freestyle: 1, Jonathan Novinski, Grand Island, 1:42.11. 2, Daniel Perry, Prep, 1:42.99. 3, Ben Dubay, Millard West, 1:43.38. 4, Jordan Stalheim, MW, 1:43.91. 5, Charles Roberts, Lincoln East, 1:44.20. 6, Sam Kelly, Westside, 1:44.94. 7, Grant Goding, Central, 1:45.55. 8, Jack Bailey, Westside, 1:45.94.

200 individual medley: 1, Nate Germonprez, Westside, 1:53.45. 2, Watson, 1:55.21. 3, Austin Smith, E/ES, 1:55.27. 4, Kael Mlinek, 1:55.82. 5, Schmaderer, 1:56.29. 6, Terin Frodyma, Omaha South, 1:56.96. 7, Kalvin Hahn, Gretna, 1:57.09. 8, Mason Olmer, Norfolk, 1:58.16.

50 freestyle: 1, Tommy Palmer, LSW, 20.71 (No. 8 all-time). 2, Caden Feit, Lincoln Northeast, 21.28. 3, Kellen Carney, Norfolk, 21.33. 4, Thomas Lundin, Westside, 21.36. 5, Andrew Hood, Prep, 21.44. 6, Logan Kempf, LPX, 21.54. 7, Charles Sieglaff, Lincoln High, 21.58. 8, Kaelin, 21.74.

100 butterfly: 1, Rush Clark, Prep, 47.21 (No. 1 all-time, state record, betters own 47.54, 2019). 2, Lundin, 50.02. 3, Perry, 50.51. 4, Jacob Nieveen, Kearney, 52.13. 5, Trevor Edwards, Millard South, 52.21. 6, Cael Dice, LE, 52.27. 7, Thomas Neil, LE, 52.30. 8, Frodyma, 52.31.

100 freestyle: 1, Palmer, 45.66 (No. 10 all-time). 2, Feit, 46.63. 3, Hood, 46.93. 4, Germonprez, 47.01. 5, Dubay, 47.09. 6, Sieglaff, 47.38. 7, Colin Davis, Westside, 47.50. 8, Smith, 47.73.

500 freestyle: 1, Novinski, 4:40.36. 2, Roberts, 4:45.19. 3, Watson, 4:45.30. 4, Kelly, 4:48.22. 5, Stalheim, 4:48.23. 6, Alex Becker, LPX, 4:48.84. 7, Josh Uehling, E/ES, 4:52.19. 8, Michael Sambula-Monzalvo, GI, 4:53.26.

200 freestyle relay: 1, Omaha Creighton Prep (Perry, Kaelin, T.J. Nissen, Hood), 1:26.61. 2, Omaha Westside, 1:27.20. 3, Lincoln Pius X, 1:27.97. 4, Millard West, 1:28.15. 5, Elkhorn/Elkhorn South, 1:28.45. 6, Lincoln East, 1:28.49. 7, Lincoln Southwest, 1:28.79. 8, Papillion-La Vista/PLV South, 1:29.02.

100 backstroke: 1, Clark, 49.11 (No. 2 all-time). 2, Carney, 50.57. 3, Davis, 51.02. 4, Dice, 51.35. 5, Sean McElmeel, PLV/PLVS, 52.96. 6, Mason Schroeder, LE, 53.02. 7, Edwards, 53.26. 8, Ben Ravnsborg, Prep, 53.36.

100 breaststroke: 1, Grant Johnson, Hastings, 57.04. 2, Olmer, 57.89. 3, Mlinek, 57.90. 4, Schmaderer, 57.97. 5, Eli Vyhidal, LPX, 58.15. 6, Kaelin, 58.38. 7, Andrew Zheng, MN, 58.69. 8, Ethan Newland, LPX, 58.86.

400 freestyle relay: 1, Omaha Creighton Prep (Clark, Watson, Hood, Perry), 3:09.63. 2, Lincoln Southwest, 3:12.32. 3, Millard West, 3:12.54. 4, Omaha Westside, 3:13.79. 5, Elkhorn/Elkhorn South, 3:14.97. 6, Norfolk, 3:15.90. 7, Lincoln East, 3:16.69. 8, Grand Island, 3:16.83.