TERRE HAUTE —
Senior Katherine Senseman and junior Rachel Senseman’s skills in the pool are best suited for the backstroke.
And while Rachel will have the chance to qualify for the finals tonight in the 100-yard backstroke at IU Natatorium in the IHSAA girls swimming and diving state finals — and Katherine is seeded among the state’s cream of the crop in the 50 and 100 freestyle — one gets the sense they’d prefer to have the bulk of their success this weekend with one of two Terre Haute South relays.
“The relays are definitely a lot of fun. It’s more exciting and you can feel more of the pressure because you have teammates behind you that have your back. And you want to swim fast for them,” said Katherine Senseman, who’s also ranked No. 1 in her class and received an unofficial offer to swim at Northwestern this week.
“We knew we really needed her for the relays. I would say if she decides to swim in college, 50 freestyle, 100 back, 200 back would be her best events,” coach Jeff Thompson said Thursday. “[Katherine] knew the relays were going to be important to the team and one of our goals was to try to get three relays to the team. The relays are a big part of what our plan was.”
Katherine led off the 200 freestyle relay, while Rachel serves as the anchor. Sophomore Hannah Ater and freshman Alayna Moore swam the two legs in between as South broke a 12-year-old school record to win the sectional crown with a time of 1 minute, 39.48 seconds.
Rachel’s ability to grind out three tough swims in a short period at the sectional is a big reason so many Braves are swimming this weekend.
The 100 backstroke is the event following the 200 freestyle relay and then just one event comes before both Sensemans swim in the 400 freestyle relay with Ashton Dillon and Brittany Scott.
Rachel has been to state before as part of a relay. Now, she’ll try to build off a big sectional performance.
“I think when you’re at state, it’s about the mindset,” Rachel said. “The atmosphere gets you excited. Hopefully, I can move up from where I’m seeded, maybe go personal best and get back to Saturday.”
Katherine has her sights on swimming fastest career times on back-to-back days.
“My goals are to go best times in both events. I’m hoping for top-8 in the 50 free and top 16 in the 100 free,” she said. “The competition is so fierce and extremely difficult that I’ll have to go my fastest to make it back [Saturday].”
Thompson shares his athlete’s confidence.
“Katherine has been there, done that,” he said. “There’s the kind of athlete that’s excited to be there, and there’s the athlete that knows they’re going to perform well. Katherine’s really confident, she’s really matured as a swimmer over the last five months.”