Three top swimmers who chose club over college

Minnesota continues to produce elite school-age female swimmers. This fall, that weighs heavily on the high school product.

Three of the state’s top swimmers, including No. 1-ranked prospects in the classes of 2024 and 2025, have decided to forgo the school season to pursue other dreams this year. Third is Texas State No. 2-ranked senior rookie Emma Kern of Delano.

Kern, the reigning Class 1A state champion in the 100-yard backstroke (53.77 seconds) and butterfly (54.80), is focused on the U.S. Olympic Trials and/or the U.S. Junior National Team. She is ranked by Swimcloud just below Edina senior and Gophers recruits Katie McCarthy. Kern Swimming Club for Aquajets.

The top-scoring recruit in the Class of 2024, Eden Prairie junior Caroline Larsen, is the reigning Class 2A state champion in the 50-m freestyle (22.66) and 100-m breaststroke (1:01.35). She swims for the Foxjet team.

Andover sophomore Grace Rabb, the No. 1 prospect for the Class of 2025, is the reigning Class 2A state champion in the 100 backstroke (54.46) and 200 individual medley (2:01.79). She swims for the Aquajets.

“These kids have decided to take advantage of having more opportunities to compete at a higher level. They will also have a more rigorous and demanding training schedule,” said Aquajets assistant coach Chris Aarseth, who is also a coach. -head in Minneapolis Southwest. “We’re at a place right now where we have good young talent in the state.”

Time and again

Visitation has held the Class 1A championship trophy since 2013. It will be no different in 2022. The Blazers will claim their ninth consecutive crown; it would be 10 but there was no state meeting in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Minnetonka is also favored to repeat in Class 2A, but Lake Conference rivals Edina and Wayzata will present a challenge. Lake teams have won the last 11 titles: Edina seven, Wayzata three and Minnetonka one.

Well deserved honor

Hutchinson’s coach, Rory Fairbanks, was honored this summer as National Swim Coach of the Year by the National High School Athletics Coaches Association. He is in his 27e swimming coach year, its 23rd at Hutchinson.

The Tigers women’s team has consistently been one of the best in Class 1A under Fairbanks and have been crowned state champions three times (2003, 2004 and 2010).


Carly Bixby, Blake, Jr.: first in the 200m freestyle and second in the 100m freestyle in class 1A. Middle School: undecided.

Paige Dillon, Minnetonka, Jr.: second in 2A 200 individual medley. Middle School: undecided.

Gabby Mauder, Woodbury, Jr.: first in 2A diving. Middle School: undecided.

Katie McCarthy, Edina, senior: first in 2A 200 and 500 freestyle. Middle School: Gophers.

Libbi McCarthy, Edina, freshman year: fourth in the 2A 50 free and sixth in the 100 free. Middle School: undecided.

Ella Passe, Visitation, senior: first in the 500 free 1A and second in the 200 free. Middle School: Duke.

Cate Pawlaski, Andover, freshman: missed last year’s state meet due to illness. Middle School: undecided.

Claire Reinke, Wayzata, senior: first in 2A 100 butterfly. Middle School: Gophers.

Lily Van Heel, St. Michael-Albertville, second year: third in 2A 100 backstroke and 200 IM. Middle School: undecided.

Haley Zelen, Shakopee, senior: first in 2A 100 free. Middle School: Wisconsin.

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