Girls swimming: Allison Cunningham working harder to achieve goals
By Josh Lichtenfeld Post-Tribune correspondent December 24, 2012 2:16PM
Munster sophomore Allison Cunningham is photographed at the high school pool in Munster, Ind. Friday December 21, 2012. Cunningham specializes in the 200 and 500 freestyle. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media
P-T Girls Top 5
1. Chesterton; 2. Munster; 3. Crown Point; 4. Lake Central; 5. Valparaiso
Swimmer of the Week
Caitlyn Edinger, Bishop Noll
Nothing like a hard-fought win over a city rival to help build up the season. On Thursday Edinger won both the 200 IM (3:05.50) and the 100 fly (1:37.97) to help the Warriors edge Morton 74-67.
Updated: January 26, 2013 6:20AM
It’s not enough for a swimmer like Allison Cunningham to have a prominent role at a young age. The Munster sophomore wants her presence known early on in a storied program.
Just like when Cunningham stepped up and primarily focused on the stamina-based distance events as a freshman, that wasn’t enough at that time.
Or, this winter, when she broke into No. 1 spots in the 200 and 500 freestyle races, filling in for some graduation holes, that still wasn’t enough. The standout in the next class of Seahorses is pushing for both a school record and her chance to swim down at IUPUI in the state meet.
“I really want to be able to make it to state in hopefully both the 200 and the 500,” says the distance swimmer, who swam behind talented senior Jillian Homans in both events in 2011. Homans’ school record of 1:52.64 in the 200 free in 2010 is a goal Cunningham is chasing. Currently, her best time is close to three seconds slower. “This year I’m really working to do what Jillian did her sophomore year.”
Cunningham’s passion is more than acceptable to Munster coach Matt Pavlovich and the squad. As the Seahorses are fighting to maintain their dominance in both the sectional and the Northwest Crossroads Conference, they’re riding a streak of seven straight in their 7-1 record. Going into the rigorous Christmas Break workouts, the only loss for Cunningham and crew came to a formidable Penn squad.
“She kind of goes about her swims, comes in trains hard and expects her teammates to do the same,” Pavlovich said about her work ethic.
This mental approach is reaping benefits in all of Cunningham’s roles in the rotation. Along with big dual meets in 200 and the 500 free (including sweeping both events in the 129-57 romp over Valparaiso on Dec. 6, where she swam her season-best time of 5:22.51 in the 500), the underclassman also helps to contribute to wins in pivotal relay performances. Cunningham is a leg in each of the 200 and 400 free relays.
“I just think she’s sees the team picture as far as everyone’s role, some meets she may be first or second in the relay,” Pavlovich said.
But while Cunningham is clearly driven, and already has a key varsity spot, perhaps her biggest motivation is the ‘against the grain’ feeling she had for years after joining the Munster swim club at 11. You see, in the youth swimming circuit, many of the girls were starting at 7 or 8 and Cunningham spent plenty of time catching up before she got to high school.
“I’m one of the last people to join,” she said of the club. “In age group it was a lot of hard to work to be able to grow and progress. That’s one of my long-term goals, to be able to race with girls that have been racing since they were younger.”
And now, in a region filled with a strong list of other talented sophomores, she’ll continue to work before the postseason arrives.
“I feel like that’s making me work even harder,” she said.