STAPLES -- Last year Britta Binek missed advancing to the Class 1A state swimming and diving meet as an individual by three-tenths of a second.
This year she made sure she advanced as an individual by winning the 200-yard freestyle with a school-record time of 2:04.46 in the Section 3 meet in Sartell.
"That has been my event since seventh grade," said Binek. "I just told myself I was going to make it this year. I said, 'You're going to make it because you were so close last year.'"
Binek also helped the Staples-Motley 200 freestyle relay advance to state for the second year. The junior teamed with Anne Palmer, Kendell Spar and Abby Palmer to finish second behind St. Cloud Cathedral with a time of 1:45.61.
"We made it last year in that relay so we thought it would be neat to go again," said Binek. "We ended up getting third but the second-place team got disqualified."
Binek's main focus, however, was the 200 free. She went into the section meet with a seed time of 2:10.
In the prelims she dropped to 2:09.6 to put her in fifth place heading into the finals Nov. 9.
In the finals, Binek swam in lane two. It was the same lane she just missed state in last year. This year there was no stopping her.
"What we saw in the prelims was she swam the first 100 really strong and the second 100 she was running out of gas," said Cardinals coach Bruce Onischuk. "That's how I planned it. We were just hoping to get a good seed, then have the time just fall on Saturday and that's what we saw."
Onischuk said Binek doubted that she could advance. The season was up and down for the five-year varsity veteran. Last year her best time was 2:05.46 but this year she hovered around the 2:10 mark. Onischuk knew Binek had the skill to make a move in the finals.
"She took the first 50 out really strong and was ahead," said Onischuk. "She finished the first 100 meters in 58 seconds and I knew the end was going to be there. When she took it out that fast I knew there was no chance of catching her."
Binek broke her school record in the 200 free but it wasn't her goal. She wanted a state appearance.
"Being at the state meet last year for the relay it just made me want to get there even more," Binek said. "Watching the events I just thought I could be swimming there right now. I had a lot more drive to get there this year."
That drive translated into swimming all summer in Alexandria. Swimming is a big part of Binek's life. She also swam the last three years for the Brainerd YMCA team.
Binek, the top-ranked student in the junior class, leads off the statebound 200 free relay.
Again, she started out fast, putting the Cardinals in good position. Onischuk said he put her at the start because she's "rock solid and hangs in there."
"Britta has done so well during the regular season you can count on her," he said. "It's nice having her in front and then putting the hammer down with Abby Palmer finishing things off."
Other notable performances:
Swimming -- Abby Palmer, Staples-Motley, won the 200 individual medley and 100 freestyle events at the Section 4 meet.
The S-M 200 freestyle relay of Binek, Anne Palmer, Kendell Palmer and Abby Palmer finished second in the Section 4 meet to advance to state.
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