Rachel Politi was concerned when she developed a cough before competing in the Division II district swimming and diving meet Feb. 15 at Ohio State, but the Columbus School for Girls sophomore didn't let it slow her down as she won the 100-yard butterfly in 56.56 seconds and placed second in the 200 freestyle in 1:52.76.
After her cough worsened and she was diagnosed with having viral bronchitis, Politi became worried she wouldn't be able to swim in the state meet, which was held Feb. 20-22 at Branin Natatorium in Canton.
She battled through the illness to set a team record of 55.84 in the preliminaries of the 100 fly before finishing fourth in 56.59, behind Bay Village Bay junior Elizabeth Auckley (55.56), Gates Mills Hawken senior Sarah Koucheki (55.79) and Hawken senior Kaitlyn Cerne (56.44).
Politi, who was seeded sixth in the 100 fly, finished third in that event in a then-team-record 56.26 at state a year ago.
"I hadn't been sick all year, and it was unnerving and disappointing to get sick right at the time when you hope to be at your best," Politi said. "Having a cough makes it tough when you're trying to swim as fast as you can and you need to breathe, but I tried to keep a positive mindset and I did the best I could do.
"I'm disappointed that I swam slower in the finals than I did last year, but given the circumstances, I'm happy with how I did."
Politi also finished 11th in the 200 free (1:54.58) after being seeded fifth in that event.
"I didn't have a good 200 free," she said. "I started coughing in the first 50 and that's not the best thing when you're trying to get air. Considering the circumstances, I'm satisfied that I was able to at least make the finals.
"Overall, it was still a good experience. Being around so many fast people is inspiring, and getting to represent CSG at state was really amazing."
CSG scored 53 points and finished 12th behind champion Hawken (321) as 47 teams scored.
Freshman Gabrielle Eismann, sophomore Kirby Boes, Politi and junior Erin Balasky finished sixth in the 200 medley relay (1:50.93).
Politi, Balasky, senior Keiko Wilkins and senior Erin Smith placed 15th in the 400 free relay (3:43.24), and freshman Eleanor Smith, Balasky, Erin Smith and Eismann finished 16th in the 200 free relay (1:41.69).
Eismann also placed 22nd in the 50 free (24.95).
"We were thrilled to have all three relays there for the first time," coach Stephanie Donley said. "All four of our girls did a great job on our 200 medley relay to reach the podium. All of our girls swam great and contributed to our team's success at state."
The state appearance wrapped up a successful season for the Unicorns, who also finished second (360) in the CCL meet held Jan. 26 at home behind Watterson (404) and ahead of Hartley (210.5), DeSales (158.5) and Ready (1).
On Feb. 9 at Columbus Academy, CSG placed third (203) in a 26-team sectional behind Granville (339) and Academy (230) as all three relays and 13 athletes competing in individual events advanced to district.
The Unicorns then placed third (270) at district behind Granville (457) and Academy (333) as 36 squads scored.
"We made substantial breakthroughs this season," Donley said.