Girls Swimming: Rachel Hawken, Claire Onchuck pool their talents for Hinsdale SouthSophomore Rachel Hawken is Hinsdale South's only returing state qualifier from last season. | George M. Wilcox~Sun-Times Media.
Updated: October 31, 2012 11:13AM
Winning the West Suburban Gold was hardly automatic for Hinsdale South Saturday.
The Hornets lost to the Addison Trail-Willowbrook Co-op Sept. 27 in their dual meet and needed to capture the conference meet at home to claim a share of the title.
With an assist from Downers Grove South, which placed second, Hinsdale South was able to wrap up a title for retiring coach Frank Kuchta in his final regular season meet as the girls coach. The Hornets (305.5) finished ahead of DGS (274.5) and AT-W (274.0).
Before the season, Kuchta announced his intent to retire after completing seasons with girls and boys swimming and girls water polo.
“I’m really proud to be a part of his last year,” junior Brianna Kirin said. “It’s the last time he’s going to be our swim coach. Everyone understood that.”
Sophomore Rachel Hawken is Hinsdale South’s only returning state qualifier, so it is hard to predict how many Hornets will advance from the Downers Grove South Sectional Nov. 10.
Hawken won the 200-yard freestyle (1:58.68) and 100 back (1:01.53) on Saturday and was the only individual conference champion for Hinsdale South. She combined with Mika Deshmukh, Kiana Shin and Claire Onchuck to win the 200 medley relay (1:56.99).
Onchuck, a sophomore, placed second in both the 50 free (26.44) and 100 free (57.83) behind AT-W’s Colleen Krawczykowski.
Onchuck’s older brothers Kevin and Nate swam for the boys program and currently are in college. Onchuck has known Hawken nearly her entire life and the two have become best friends while attending fifth grade at Our Lady of Peace School in Darien. When they attended the Darien Park District’s First Step preschool together, they shared the same teacher, Jean Starshak.
Now both compete for the Hornet Swim Club in the offseason.
“We’ve spent a lot of time together since we were little. It’s great having her there,” Onchuck said.
Hawken and Onchuck work out regularly during the swimming season. Before school, they swim, do dryland training in the weight room or run laps, and perform situps and pushups. There is another practice session after school in the pool.
“This season has been a big surprise,” Onchuck said. “I’ve been doing a lot more exercises and pushed myself to work a lot harder.”
Kirin was another two-time conference runner-up in the 200 IM (2:24.01) and 100 fly (1:06.67) behind AT-W’s Kelly McNamara.
“I know (McNamara) a little bit,” Kirin said. “We talked before the meet. I was happy she got the times she did. I was close to my personal-best. I was a second off the state time for the 100 fly.”~.