High school swimming: Piedmont's Kasey Rein, Newcastle's Jessi Hildebrand favored to take state again
Both were the first swimmers ever at their schools as freshmen — and both have enjoyed success at state meet.
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Now, Piedmont has 11 swimmers and is expected to produce two state champions this year in Rein and Connor St. John, who has the fastest time in 5A in the boys' 200-yard intermediate medley.
Rein said she owes her state titles to her mother, Oralia Rein, who also is Piedmont's swim coach.
Oralia Rein, who was working part-time in the cafeteria for the Piedmont Public Schools, persuaded the school district two years ago to start a swimming program so her daughter could compete in high school.
It wasn't an easy sell. The Reins considered transferring to another school that participated in swimming, but Kasey Rein said her mother just wouldn't take no for an answer.
“I wouldn't be able to do this if she hadn't pushed so hard for swimming,” Kasey Rein said.
Rein won 5A state titles last year in the 200-yard intermediate medley and the 100-yard backstroke.
This year, she is trading the 200 intermediate medley for the 500 freestyle, a race not only won by Hildebrand last year but one where she also set a state 5A record.
Hildebrand was state champion in the 100 butterfly and 500 freestyle last year. This year, she is trading the 500 freestyle for the 200 freestyle.
Rein and Hildebrand try to avoid having to compete against each other.
“We don't race each other,” Hildebrand said. “We want each other to succeed.”
So Hildebrand will be rooting for Rein to win the 500 freestyle Saturday. But will she be rooting for her friend to break her state record in the event?
Hildebrand answered the question diplomatically.
“I will be cheering for her to go as fast as she can,” Hildebrand said.
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