Published Saturday, February 23, 2013 at 10:04 pm / Updated at 10:06 pm
Fischer finds way to defend title in 500 free

LINCOLN — The finishing time in her specialty event was not what Lincoln Southwest’s Aimee Fischer wanted, but after a long day in the pool there’s something to be said for just getting your hand to the wall first.

Fischer successfully defended her state title in the 500-yard freestyle Saturday on the final day of the state swimming championships at the Devaney Center. The Southwest junior narrowly held on to edge Millard North junior Mary Kate Luddy by 0.11 seconds, finishing in a time of 5:07.15.

“I might have tensed up a little bit,” Fischer said. “I wish I could say I held back because I would’ve liked a better time, but I gave it my all. It just didn’t work out the way I wanted.”

The state title was part of a banner day for Fischer, who finished with two individual titles by adding a win in the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 1:54.57, more than one second ahead of Omaha Westside’s Grace Porter in second.

Fischer also started the day by anchoring Southwest’s championship 200-yard individual medley relay, and closed the meet by leading off the Silver Hawks’ 400-yard freestyle relay, which finished second.

“She’s a workhorse,” Southwest coach Bob Calegan said of Fischer. “She just has absolutely earned everything that she’s gotten.”

Fischer had a hand in 77 of Southwest’s 222 team points, which earned the Silver Hawks a runner-up finish behind state champion Millard West. It was Southwest’s highest finish ever at the state championships.

Fischer considers the 500 freestyle her best event, but after a long two days in the pool, Fischer had to grind out her second straight state title in the race Saturday thanks to a strong challenge from Luddy.

Swimming her third event of the day in the 500 freestyle, Fischer built a .38-second lead after the first 400 yards, but needed to fend off Luddy down the stretch as the Millard North swimmer closed all but .11 seconds of the gap over the final 100 yards.

“For the last three 50s, I was starting to edge out on her and get a little bit more distance, but then she came back really hard,” Fischer said. “I wasn’t really expecting that, I guess, but I really wanted to win.”

Said Calegan: “The fact that she just raced, regardless of the outcome time-wise, she finished and raced, I couldn’t be more proud of her.”

Earlier in the day, Fischer dominated the 200 freestyle finals, winning the state title her first year in the event.

“The 200 I was really happy with because it wasn’t an event I swam last year,” Fischer said. “I wanted to win a new event.”

Fischer will have one more year to add to her state championship total. If she takes home the title in the 500 freestyle at next year’s state meet, she will continue a string of dominant swimmers in the event. There have been five three-time winners in the girls 500 freestyle dating back to 1973. Omaha Marian’s Jenn Kocsis is the only four-time champion, winning the event from 2003 to ’06.

The fact Fischer was somewhat displeased despite three gold medals didn’t surprise her coach. Part of what sets Fischer apart, Calegan said, is never being satisfied.

“She’s a quiet leader, but she’s a leader,” he said. “She does it in the workouts. She does it out of the pool. I just couldn’t ask for a better swimmer.”

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