Swimming: Kissack medals at IHSA Sectional in St. Charles

Junior Bryn Kissack earned three medals during the IHSA Girls Swimming & Diving Sectional at St. Charles North on Saturday. (Courtesy photo)

Rochelle junior qualifies for state championship in three events

ST. CHARLES — Rochelle student-athlete Bryn Kissack considered the chance to compete at the IHSA Girls State Swimming & Diving Championships a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The junior earned her chance to make that opportunity a reality on Saturday, when she represented Rochelle Township High School in the IHSA Sectional at St. Charles North High School.

Competing in a sectional swim meet for the second straight season, Kissack raced in three events including the 50-yard freestyle as well as the 100-yard freestyle and the 100-yard breaststroke. One of two swimmers participating in the athletes with disabilities division, Kissack finished first in both the 50-yard freestyle and the 100-yard freestyle, clocking in with respective times of 1:29.04 and 3:24.28. Kissack also took second in the 100-yard breaststroke.

“I had a lot of fun at the sectional meet last year,” Kissack said. “I had even more fun this year… I knew I was going up against someone else and I knew she was fast, but I told myself that I was going to swim faster than her and I pushed myself. It was a different experience to race against someone else, but it was a lot more fun for me because I had more competition.”

Kissack, who has spina bifida, has been training at the REC Center in Rochelle to prepare for the state series, which will conclude with the IHSA State Championships at the FMC Natatorium in Westmont this coming weekend. Kissack’s training was evident during Saturday’s sectional meet, where she improved her 50-yard freestyle time from last year by over 14 seconds and her 100-yard freestyle time by roughly 20 seconds. Kissack medaled in all three races on Saturday.

“I want to win a state medal,” Kissack said. “I want to show that I’m strong and that I can compete. I also want to represent my school, not because I’m a kid in a wheelchair, but I want to show people that anything is possible. I've definitely gotten a lot faster than I was last year. I didn’t feel like I was very fast last year, but I’ve improved a lot and I want to get better.”

Kissack competed against St. Charles North’s Maya Townsend in each of her three events. The head-to-head races were a nice change of pace for Kissack, who was the only participant in the athletes with disabilities division at last year’s sectional in Byron. Despite qualifying last year, Kissack chose not to attend the state meet, electing to stay in Rochelle and cheer on the varsity football team, which made the state quarterfinals under her father, head coach Kyle Kissack. 

“When I competed last year, it was just me against the clock,” Kissack said. “It wasn’t the same experience as I had this year, when I had the chance to race against another swimmer… This year, I decided that, even if we made it deeper into the playoffs,  I would go to the state meet. My mom and dad told me that this would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I’d never know if something like this could happen again. I took their advice and I told myself that I’d push on.”

Kissack will be the first swimmer from Rochelle to compete at the IHSA State Championships since Alli Cole, who was a four-time state qualifier and Rochelle’s all-time winningest swimmer. Cole also competed in the athletes with disabilities division.