The Columbus School for Girls swimming and diving team endured its most intense training sessions of the season during the holiday break, leaving its athletes feeling tired heading into the second half of the regular season.
And even though coach Stephanie Donley has continued to have her athletes compete in a variety of events that aren't necessarily their strongest races, her squad has continued to do well.
On Dec. 29, the Unicorns scored 331 points to win the 14-team Grandview Yule at the Pool at Columbus Aquatics Center ahead of runner-up Hartley (183).
CSG beat Pickerington Central 169-107 in dual meet Jan. 3, and the Unicorns had several strong performances in the Northeast Classic held Jan. 12 at Branin Natatorium in Canton.
"We have our girls swimming tired right now because we want them to be rested and at their best for the important meets at the end of the season," Donley said. "We're having a lot of the girls swim their 'off' events, too, because it's important to get away from swimming your best race every meet.
"We're not stacking our lineup to try to win regular-season meets, but I'm happy that we're doing so well even with the girls swimming tired and swimming off events, because sometimes you have to swim through it when you don't feel good, and they're showing that they're capable of doing that."
In the Northeast Classic, Rachel Politi placed fifth in the 200-yard freestyle in a team-record 1 minute, 53.32 seconds.
Politi now owns team records in three events, as she broke two team records in last year's Division II state meet at Branin Natatorium while finishing third in the 100 butterfly (56.26) and eighth in the 100 backstroke (58.24).
"I swam the 200 free just to get points for my team and to see what I could do because I hadn't swum it prior to this meet," Politi said. "It was exciting to get to swim against the Division I swimmers who we wouldn't normally race against at the state meet, and it was a real honor to break our school record in the 200 free."
Politi also placed fifth in the 100 back (58.24), while Kirby Boes was 17th in the 200 individual medley (2:20.37) and Erin Balasky, Boes, Politi and Gabrielle Eismann were 10th in the 200 medley relay (1:54.34).
"This was a great meet for all of the girls," Donley said. "We're really excited because we had a lot of best times or at least personal-best times for this season. The girls had fun, and they're excited about doing so well in the same pool that the state meet is held in. Hopefully, we'll make it back and do well here again at state."
The Unicorns also were happy to take home the team championship trophy from the Yule at the Pool for a second consecutive season.
Politi won the 50 free (27.08) and Keiko Wilkins won the 200 free (2:08.41).
Balasky, Boes, Politi and Eismann won the 200 medley relay (1:57.65), Balasky, Wilkins, Erin Smith and Politi won the 400 free relay (3:58.87) and Annie Moosavian, Eleanor Smith, Adelaide Standley and Eismann won the 200 free relay (1:50.11).
"Our times weren't overwhelmingly amazing, but it was exciting to win this meet again and it was a good confidence boost for our team," Politi said.
Basketball team looking for scoring
The basketball team was routed by Watterson 72-12 on Jan. 12 to drop to 1-10 overall and 0-4 in the CCL before playing Watkins Memorial in a non-league game Jan. 14.
The Unicorns beat Horizon Science Academy 52-30 on Dec. 14 before losing their following five games, including a 48-31 loss to Columbus Academy on Jan. 8.
Guard Myrial Holbrook scored 12 points and center Haleigh Wilson scored 11 against Academy, but CSG has struggled to score overall this season, averaging only 23.2 points through its first 11 contests.
The Unicorns will compete in the Jaguar Invitational on Friday, Jan. 18, and Saturday, Jan. 19, at Wellington.
On Jan. 18, CSG will play Wellington and Crestline will face Shekinah Christian. The winners will meet in the championship game at 2 p.m. Jan. 19, with the losing squads playing in the consolation game at 10 a.m.
The Unicorns lost to Shekinah Christian 73-28 on Dec. 10.
CSG will resume CCL competition on Tuesday, Jan. 22, by playing host to Hartley.
Hartley defeated CSG 58-2 on Dec. 12. Wilson scored the Unicorns' lone basket in the second quarter.