DeKALB – Molly Allison doesn’t know whether she would have qualified for state or not as a freshman.
The DeKalb-Sycamore freestyle specialist was sick toward the end of last year and missed the sectional. But that helped push a healthy Allison this year toward qualifying for state for the first time.
“I was really upset last year when I got really sick and I realized I wasn’t going to be able to compete at sectionals,” said Allison, a sophomore at Sycamore. “But it kind of gave me that extra drive to really want to make it to state since I didn’t have the chance to last year.”
Allison was the lone state qualifier for DeKalb-Sycamore, hitting the qualifying mark in both the 100-yard freestyle (52.89) and 200 free (1:54.61). Both were personal bests.
At state, Allison took 29th in the 200 in 1:56.39 and tied for 40th with a 53.61 in the 100.
For her accomplishments, Allison has been named the 2023 Daily Chronicle Girls Swimmer of the Year.
Allison said the experience has helped prepare her for any future trips to the season finale, getting used to the environment and how great the competition is.
“It was really fun. It was very overwhelming,” Allison said. “There were a lot of people there. But it was fun. I had a good time.”
A trip to the state meet was the goal from the start of the season, DeKalb-Sycamore swim coach Melanie Chambers said.
“First day of practice, she knew what she wanted to achieve,” Chambers said. “She just kept chipping away at them the whole season. She did a great job of working hard, always keeping those goals in mind.”
Allison still hadn’t hit the qualifying marks heading into the sectional, so she tapered heading into the meet. She swam less yardage, got more rest and went for more high quality swims leading up to the sectional.
The strategy worked, with Allison achieving the qualifying standard for a state trip.
“We fully rested her, so to speak, for sectionals,” Chambers said. “Then we just had like a week to kind of hold on to that. Next year we’re hoping to swim through sectionals so we can fully taper her for state, which will be where we want her to get her best times.”
Chambers said this year was just about getting to state for the first time for Allison. Next year is about making it out of the preliminaries and into Day 2.
Allison also earned All-DuPage Valley Conference honors in the 100 and 200 free.
“Building her confidence this year was great,” Chambers said. “She started realizing what potential she has, and we’ve started tapping into that. I’m looking forward to continue doing that next year and just kind of unleashing that whole potential of what we know we’ve got in her.”
Allison said she was pleased with the year and is hoping for a two-day experience at state next year.
“It went kind of a lot better than expected,” Allison said. “I was hoping to make it to state but I wasn’t fully counting on the fact I was going to make it to state.”