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Winnetka Saturday, 2/23/13 Mundelein's Connor Black won the 50-Yard Freestyle and the 100-Yard Butterfly during Saturday's IHSA State Championship hosted by New Trier High School. Black broke the national record in the Butterfly, finishing with a time of
After setting a pair of Illinois records at the state boys swim meet Friday, all Connor Black wanted was a night of normalcy.
On Saturday, the Mundelein senior would win a pair of state titles — setting a national record in the process. But on Friday night, he went to Portillo’s, a traditional after-meet hangout. Feeling at home, Black devoured an order of baked mostaccioli and bread.
He had earned his carb-heavy meal with a performance never before seen in the state preliminaries. Black had set state records in the 50-yard freestyle and 100 butterfly. His time of 19.80 seconds in the 50 free shattered the decade-old mark held by Lake Forest graduate — and Olympian — Matt Grevers. Black’s 100 fly time of 47.20 also set a state record.
After dinner, someone started a movie. But Black’s afterglow from accomplishing two preseason goals had not yet subsided.
“I don’t even remember what movie it was,” Black said. “There were a lot of people turning into aliens.”
When Blake woke up Saturday morning, his thoughts shifted from aliens to his two other goals — a pair of state titles.
Up first was the 50 free. Working from lane four, Black’s time of 19.95 was a hair slower than Friday’s unprecedented number. But it was still good enough to win easily (the runner-up touched in 20.27).
“He was actually faster out than he was (Friday),” Mustangs coach Rahul Sethna said of Black’s first 25 yards. “I don’t think he had as clean of a turn, otherwise he would have been faster. Saturday is about racing, and Connor is such a great racer.”
Black still had to race in the 100 fly. As a youngster racing for the Mundelein Mustangs Swim Club, that event always held more significance for Black.
“That’s always been my favorite race,” said Black, just the second state champion in Mundelein history. “Since I was 10 years old, it was all about the fly.”
Standing in his way was Loyola’s Andrew Jovanovic, the two-time defending state champion. At Friday’s prelim, Black out-stretched Jovanovic to finish .61 seconds better than his rival (47.81).
For Saturday’s final, Black was in lane four with Jovanovic in five. They were locked in a duel for the first 50 yards, the splits almost equal. As the noise grew louder inside the standing-room only Natatorium on New Trier’s campus, Black took control over the final 50.
When he touched the last wall, his time of 46.71 had not only beaten Jovanovic (48.11), but it had broken a four-year national high school record set by Eddie Kramer of Madison, Va., by .37 seconds.
In a span of 24 hours, Black reached all of his goals and doubled down. Standing in the crowded pool locker room afterwards, the Stanford-bound swimmer — as humble out of the water as he is brilliant in it — couldn’t wipe the grin off his face when asked how he felt.
“It’s pretty cool,” Black said. ~.