Region 7 swimmers dive in this weekend

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Lainy Kruger is used to people misspelling her first name – folks adding an “e” between the “n” and “y” is the most common mistake.

“It happens all the time,” the Notre Dame senior swimmer said.

Something else has happened almost as much – Kruger winning state titles.

Kruger, who lives in Taylor Mill, goes for more medals at the Region 7 meet, which begins Friday at Silverlake on Kenton Lands Road in Erlanger.

So far, Kruger’s won three state championships: last year’s 200-yard freestyle (in 1 minute, 46.14 seconds) and 100 breaststroke (1:01.34), and the 2021, 100 breaststroke (1:01.85). She also placed second in the ‘21, 100 freestyle (49.67).

Kruger, 17, said the individual accolades are not what keeps her swimming up to 9,000 yards – around 5.11 miles – most days.

“Why is swimming fun?” Kruger said. “Honestly, the teammates, and the team and the coaches, and knowing that everyone around you is going through the same thing as you. You’re all there to push each other.”

Kruger said relays are her favorite events. She plans to be in the 200 medley (she swims the breaststroke leg), 200 freestyle and 400 freestyle.

“I always swim faster in relays than I do in my individual events,” she said. “And I think it’s the atmosphere of the relays that gets me going.”

Kruger does two things away from the pool: riding a friend’s golf cart and baking.

“I just enjoy baking cakes,” she said. “I like baking lemon cakes and blueberry cakes.”

After high school, Kruger plans to attend the University of Florida; she chose the Gators over Tennessee and Indiana. 

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But first, there’s the pressure of defending her state titles.

“There’s always a little pressure that comes with state for anyone,” Kruger said. “… I’m just gonna go and do my best, and hope I win.”

Tight races

Ryle coach Jeff Floyd said the girls team competition could be tight between the Raiders and Notre Dame.

“Notre Dame is extremely top-heavy with talent led by Lainy Kruger …” Floyd said. “She is by far the best girl in the region. Notre Dame dominates the 200 free (and) 500 free.”

Ryle’s going to have to deal with a mixture of everybody contributing, a total team effort.”

Floyd said Ryle and Highlands are this year’s top two boys contenders. The Bluebirds won last year, 487.5-458.

“And for once we’re favored,” Floyd said. “… Last year we were second for the first time. This would be an absolute history situation for the boys.”

Highlands coach Amanda Johnson knows her Northern Kentucky swimming history. She swam for Beechwood in the 1990s, and she’s coached for 20 seasons, 13 at Highlands and seven at Beechwood. She remembers a time when Covington Catholic and Scott dominated the boys events and Notre Dame and Beechwood were perennial girls titlists.

Ryle won last year’s girls team title over Dixie Heights, 451-334.

“The big competition is going to be Ryle and Notre Dame on the girls side and us and Ryle on the boys side,” Johnson said.

Kind of a drag

Ryle freshman Chase Knopf was not attracted to swimming when he was six. His parents, Becky and Scott Knopf, however, thought being in the pool was a good thing.

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“If I’m being dead honest, I was kind of bad at every other sport, so I got dragged into this one,” Chase said. “They kind of dragged me into it, but that’s alright.”

The Raiders appreciate the parental perseverance.

“He could arguably win five or six events at regionals,” Ryle coach Jeff Floyd said. 

Four one-meter divers are already in the state meet Feb. 16-18 at the University of Kentucky’s Lancaster Aquatic Center. 

Two-time defending state champion Peytton Moore of Cooper won Tuesday’s Super Regional at the University of Louisville. Her 488.80 total was 111 points better than Simon Kenton senior Leigha Travis’ 369.80.

CovCath junior Jacob Larkin won the boys title with 509.55 points. Ryle junior Landon Isler was second with 444.95.

The Region 7 swim meet begins Friday at Silverlake The Family Place, 301 Kenton Lands Road in Erlanger. Friday warmups begin at 11 a.m. and preliminary races at noon. Saturday warmups start at 3:30 p.m., followed by the finals at 5 p.m. Information: 859-426-7777.

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