Whenever Lainy Kruger was in the swimming pool Friday, she showed the rest of the field the soles of her feet.
Notre Dame’s senior and University of Florida commit capped a stellar high school career at the University of Kentucky’s Lancaster Aquatic Center. She won her second straight state 200-yard freestyle in 1:46.36 and her second consecutive 100-yard breaststroke title in 1:02.30.
When adding the 100 breaststroke she won two years ago, Kruger finished with five state titles.
In both of Friday’s races, Kruger led early.
In the 200 freestyle, Kruger was two seconds ahead of duPont Manual’s Jenna Brown after 100 yards.
Same story in the 100 breaststroke. She beat Lexington Catholic’s Libby Livesay by about two seconds.
“I knew last year, it was kind of like that, too,” Kruger said. “I knew how to go out by myself and race myself.”
A few minutes after the meet ended, Kruger pushed out her lower lip, a sign of sadness that high school swimming with the Pandas was done.
“It’s sad,” she said. “I mean, I love this team, I love being a Panda. I’ve been a Panda for four years, and to see it come to an end is really bittersweet.”
Pandas take third
For the 11th straight time and 34th time in state history, Louisville Sacred Heart won the team title. The Valkyries defeated Lexington Catholic, 340.5-202.
But Notre Dame coach Jamie Kelly was pleased because the Pandas placed third with 196 points, which is a whole lot better than finishing seventh last year and 14th in 2021.
“We’ve been down a couple years,” Kelly said. “To get back up there and see our names at the top of the leaderboard is great.”
Notre Dame sophomore Sadie Hartig finished second in the 500 freestyle. Her 4:57.30 was a little more than four seconds behind Sacred Heart sophomore Haley McDonald’s 4:53.11.
That Hartig didn’t run out of energy by the 500 was maybe the greater story. She also swam the 200 freestyle relay with Claire Monahan, Olivia Wallace and Riley Quinn (Notre Dame finished fourth in 1:40.56) and 100 backstroke (12th place, 58.81).
“I was very tired, yeah,” Hartig said.
St. Henry senior Emma Littrell placed second in the 100 freestyle. Her 51.90 was a little more than a half-second behind West Jessamine senior Lily DeLong’s 51.35.
“I’m just so thankful for everything everyone has done for me up to this point,” Littrell said. “I’m glad I got to go out on such a great note … I’ve just been trying to go under 52.”
Littrell said the race was essentially decided on the first flip turn after 25 yards.
“I was a little too far from the wall,” she said. “After that, I knew I really had to get going.”
Littrell also finished seventh in the 50 freestyle (24.06).
Boys preliminary races begin at 10:15 a.m. Saturday. The finals start at 6:45 p.m.
For complete results, visit https://khsaa.org/swimming/2023/state/index.htm.