Swenson consistently among elite
Loyola's Evan Swenson competes in the 200-yard freestyle during a dual meet against Evanston on Sept. 1, 2011. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun-Times Media
Culture Grid: Maddie Jardeleza
Jardeleza is a senior swimmer for the Ramblers:
See any movies in the theater this summer? “ ‘Dark Knight.’ It was so good I was freaking out. It was amazing. I don’t think the series is over, either. I think there will be another one.”
What band have you been listening to lately? “Rage Against the Machine. I know it’s not typical for someone like me.”What’s your favorite restaurant around town? “Gilson’s in Wilmette. I like the summery wintery salad.”
What is your favorite TV show? “ ‘Awkward’ on MTV. It’s great.”
Which class are you liking the most so far? “My AP Literature. It’s been tough, but I am getting into it. I love my teacher, Mrs. Whelan. It’s going to make me a better writer and prepare me for college.”
Updated: October 7, 2012 7:53AM
Even though Loyola senior Evan Swenson hasn’t won a state championship yet, she could be considered one of the best high school freestylers to ever swim in Illinois.
In three trips to the state meet, she’s been to the finals the maximum 12 times and finished in the top six — the championship finals — a head-shaking nine times.
Every year she’s made the championship finals in the 50-yard freestyle, and she’s been the runner-up in the state the last two seasons. Both times Swenson took second to Glenbrook South senior Olivia Smoliga, an Olympic hopeful for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.
“That’s impressive because each time it’s to a talented swimmer,” Hengelmann said. “That’s nothing to frown upon.”
Swenson’s personal-best time of 23.29 seconds from last year’s state meet ties her for 15th fastest all-time in Illinois in the 50 free.
This year, Swenson’s stronger than ever in the water.
“I’ve put in a lot more work, and I’m more confident,” she said. “This summer changed my perspective.”
When pressed, Swenson didn’t know how to exactly explain herself, but it was clear she’s more focused on her craft. A lot of that is because of her experience swimming at the U.S. Olympic Trials for the first time this summer in Omaha.
“Knowing I was going against the best in the world was amazing,” said Swenson, who finished tied for 138th in heats of the 50-meter freestyle. “I also learned so much about the U.S. as a team. They all worked hard for the team.”
After a practice last week, Swenson rarely talked about herself or her accomplishments. Swenson’s also keeping the colleges she’s considering a secret. Rather, she steered the conversation toward her team.
“When I work harder, they work harder,” she said. “My goal, our goal, is to get as many girls to the state meet. I love high school season. I love being here and practicing with them.”
Swenson sidestepped questions about winning a state title. She mentioned the possibility of changing individual events, possibly swimming something other than the sprint freestyle, which speaks to her unselfishness.
“That’s the ultimate goal, of course,” she said of being the best in the state. “It’s the cherry on top. But for me, it’s about relays, about scoring the most points for the team and working with the team.”
Senior Maddie Jardeleza said she’s thrilled to swim with Swenson one last time. The two grew up together in the program and are ready to punctuate their prep careers.
They swam on the 200 medley and 400 free relays at the state meet last season when the Ramblers took fourth as a team.
The medley relay was fifth, and the 400 free was third.
“She’s awesome,” said Jardeleza, also an Evanston resident and state medalist. “She’s so positive. She’s good to have around to lighten the mood.”