Girls Swimming: New champ Lyons snaps Hinsdale Central’s dominant run

Updated: October 29, 2012 5:51PM

Oak Park-River Forest senior Samantha Halpern saved her best for last.

Halpern swam a personal-best 1:12.08 Saturday to finish third in the 100-yard breaststroke at the West Suburban Silver meet at Hinsdale Central.

Halpern also swam some of her best times in her portions of the 200 medley relay, 200 free relay and finished 10th in the 100 butterfly.

But Halpern competed for the final time in her career Saturday. She was not selected for OPRF’s sectional lineup which will be held Nov. 10 at Fenwick.

“It’s the end of my season,” Halpern said. “I felt really good. I had an amazing meet, I couldn’t ask to do any better. I was pretty surprised. I was hoping to get my best times, but I did not expect this.”

Halpern will not be taking much time off from swimming. She rested Sunday and will be back in the pool Monday with her club team, Oak Park-based TOPS, where she will continue workouts for the upcoming club season. Halpern does not plan on participating in water polo in the spring.

For the sectional, each team is allowed a maximum of two competitors per event. In the 100 breast, OPRF coach Clyde Lundgren entered junior Faith Lewis and sophomore Chloe Guhlstorf. Guhlstorf won the Frosh/Soph race in the conference meet and Lewis placed fifth in the varsity race.

Lyons (288 points) won all three relays and earned titles from Elly Vitek (200 free) and Louisa Hoffman (50 free) to end Hinsdale Central’s streak of nine consecutive conference championships. The Red Devils (248) were second and OPRF (210) took fourth.

Hoffman won titles with the 200 and 400 free relays after winning her first conference title in the 50 free. The 50 free is a new event this season for Hoffman, who at 5-foot-6 is considered one of the shorter competitors for the all-out sprint.

“I wanted to try it and I ended up liking it,” said Hoffman, a Western Springs resident. “I’ve worked on my reaction time [on starts]. During practice, I make sure I focus of the block. I also work with my kickouts off the wall as much as I can. My legs are a strength.”

Hoffman’s top individual finish at last year’s state meet was eighth in the 100 free.

Hinsdale Central crowned only two conference champions with diver Margaret McCarthy (373.60 points) on Friday and senior Cara LoPiano (5:13.09) in the 500 free on Saturday.

The meet provided a few mixed emotions for LoPiano, who transferred from York for her senior year. At York, she qualified for state in three events last year and in one event in 2010.

“It was great to see them,” said LoPiano. who lives in Hinsdale. “I have a great relationship with my previous teammates. I still see them on weekends.”

LoPiano also joined the Hinsdale Swim Club in the offseason and has made a successful transition to her new school through swimming.

“She has played an integral role in the dual meets this year and we can’t wait to see what she can do at the end of the year,” Devils coach Bob Barber said. “Hopefully, Hinsdale has been as good to her as she has been to us.”

LoPiano’s best finish in last year’s state meet was 26th in the 500 free.

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