February 27, 2011
Gordon takes sixth in 100 breaststroke at state meet
By KEVIN DRULEY - [email protected]
WINNETKA – Swimming unites the Gordon family for most of the year. On Saturday, it divided them.
DeKalb-Sycamore co-op senior Michael Gordon will join older brother David at Xavier soon enough, but for now, the last weekend in February creates a conflict.
While Gordon's mother watched him finish sixth in the 100-yard breaststroke at the IHSA state meet at New Trier, his father was in Buffalo, N.Y., rooting David on in the Atlantic 10 Championships.
"Each parent took a kid. That's what it came down to," Gordon said. "But everything worked out."
Gordon closed his career with a 58.08-second swim, 0.29 seconds off the pace of his time in Friday's preliminaries. He felt his legs strain as he entered the final 25 yards of the race, but that was from natural fatigue, not any wobbly knees from the competition.
After dueling for the state record a day earlier, seniors Matt Elliott of Peoria Richwoods and Kevin Cordes of Naperville Neuqua Valley resumed their speed match in the backstroke finals, with Elliott edging Cordes, 53.8 to 54.16.
Gordon grinned about the hoopla surrounding his race on a day that saw other marks fall, but didn't do much more than that.
"I normally try to stay focused on my own race, but obviously, with Matt and Kevin out there going for the state record again, I'm aware of that," he said. "They're really fast, so there's not much more that can be said about that."
One event earlier, Kaneland senior Grant Alef clipped his previous personal best by one-hundredth of a second to place fifth in the 100 backstroke. Almost 10 months after his previous PR at the outdoor YMCA Nationals, Alef closed his high school career with a 51.18 in crunch time.
A Minnesota recruit, Alef munched on Rold Gold mini pretzels two hours before hitting the pool for the 10th of the day's 12 events. It's a custom he first picked up as a Knights cross-country runner four years ago, and the reasoning makes him sound like a pretzel pitchman.
"Easy to digest, nice on the stomach and goes down easy with water and Gatorade," Alef said.
After competing in both the 500 free and 100 backstroke last season, getting a mere 20-minute rest in between, Alef called it a "hidden blessing" to be swimming just once on Saturday.
Once his sandwich bag of snacks ran out, there was plenty of time to focus on the final minute of his high school career.
"I've done this race so many times," Alef said. "I go over and over in my mind. There's always something I can pick up that I need to do better next time."
Gordon and Alef have trained together at the Kishwaukee Family YMCA for the past 12 years, and their Saturday swan songs closed a successful chapter in Daily Chronicle-area swimming.
"Excluding the months between November and now when we're in high school season, I'm swimming in a lane with him," Gordon said. "We keep in touch and see each other throughout the year. He's a great guy and a great person to have swimming with you and pushing you to the next level."
If David Gordon weren't in western New York on Saturday, his brother could have used the same line about him. Both will be Musketeers next season.