In just a few weeks, Rebecca Postoll will be packing her bags and heading off to college to continue her competitive swimming career.
Before that happens, the Charlotte Catholic graduate has a few things she wants to cross off her list.
One of those was taken care of July 10 in Athens, Ga., as Postoll and three of her SwimMAC Carolina teammates set a national age-group relay record. Postoll and her teammates – nationally-ranked swimmer Kathleen Baker, and high schoolers Jessica Merritt and Alyssa Marsh – set the record in the women’s 400-meter freestyle relay at the Speedo Southern Zone Sectionals meet.
Postoll swam the anchor (final) leg of SwimMAC Carolina’s record-setting women’s 400 freestyle relay at the Southern Zone Sectionals. Baker, who will attend California-Berkeley in the fall, Merritt, a rising senior at Cornelius’ Hough High, swam the second leg, and Marsh – a rising junior at Mooresville’s Pine Lake Prep who was twice the most outstanding swimmer at the NCHSAA 1A/2A state championships – swam the third leg.
SwimMAC Carolina’s time of 3 minutes, 45.51 seconds not only shattered the national 17-18 age group record by nearly three seconds, it also eclipsed the nation’s best age-group time in the event by more than four seconds.
“I wasn’t even aware we were going for the record until I was on the blocks,” said Postoll, who won an individual title and two relay titles at the 2015 NCHSAA 4A state championships.
“You always have in the back of your mind that you want to do the best for your team, and relays have always been my favorite part of swimming. I knew we had the potential to (set the record), but it wasn’t expected. Still, it was in the back of our minds.”
“I wasn’t really paying attention to the clock, but when Kathleen went a 55.9 (seconds) in the first leg, that really set things up and got us ready to go. Then Jessica went 56.2 and Alyssa went 56.6, so I really couldn’t complain about my 56.5.”
Not only did SwimMAC Carolina’s team break the national record, its time was nearly three seconds faster than second-place Club Wolverine, Michigan’s off-season swim program, which touched second in 3:48.44. It was also less than a second off the 15-18 national record of 3:44.88, currently held by the Carmel (Ind.) Swim Club.
“At that point, we had such a lead that there wasn’t much to worry about on my end,” Postoll said. “But the win was against Michigan, which is where I’m going to college. That’s what made it so much fun – to race against them, and getting to beat them before going off to college there.”
Before Postoll heads off to Michigan – she checks in for the Wolverines’ preseason swim workouts Sept. 4, with classes beginning Sept. 8 – there’s one more meet with SwimMAC Carolinas to take care of.
It’s also one more shot at another national age-group record – this one in the 15-18 division – during the Speedo U.S. Junior Nationals, held July 30-Aug. 3 in San Antonio, Texas.
While Baker – who will be competing at the FINA World Championships in Kazan, Russia, the following week – won’t be available, SwimMAC Carolina has a number of capable replacements.
Baker could be replaced by either Texas signee Nora McCullagh, Postoll’s teammate at Charlotte Catholic who is a three-time most outstanding swimmer award winner at the NCHSAA state championships; or Hough High’s Erika Brown, who swam the anchor leg on the SwimMAC team that holds the nation’s best 15-18 time this season (3:49.65).
“We have others who can easily step up, but it will be hard to replace Kathleen’s ability to turn things on,” Postoll said. “There’s not many swimmers like Kathleen Baker. She’s going to be tough to replace, but we have the depth to do a ‘B’ team.”
Bill Kiser is a freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.