BNL’s Gabhart seeks to break one more record when she competes in IHSAA state finals

BNL’s Emma Gabhart will compete in the IHSAA state prelims in the 100-yard butterfly on Friday.

By Justin Sokeland

BEDFORD – Emma Gabhart is rewriting history, scrubbing out the past. She feels a little guilty about it, then quickly dismisses that brief pang on her conscience. Records, after all, will be broken. When her Bedford North Lawrence career ends this weekend in the IHSAA state finals, she could own half of the eight individual best times on the wall above the pool.

Her name is already etched on that board three times (or will be when it’s updated). She’s gunning for a fourth and final record when she competes in the 100-yard butterfly race during the state championship preliminaries at IUPUI on Friday night.

Gabhart already owns the 200 individual medley, 100 breaststroke and 100 backstroke (set in the sectional at Jasper last week, clocking 59.43 to top Sidney Carlile’s 2018 record). Now she’s just .05 seconds behind Carlile’s butterfly record, and that’s in jeopardy as Gabhart has tapered her training regimen for a peak performance in the state meet. Poor Sidney, she’s getting erased like those pictures in Back to the Future.

“I feel a little bad that it’s Sidney’s name,” Gabhart said. “Records aren’t the most important thing. I just want to do well.”

More important would be earning a spot in the state final or consolation race in her last event. She’s seeded 23rd, which means she could have to trim at least two seconds off her sectional time in order to advance. The top eight in the field of 32 will qualify for the championship race on Saturday, while places 9-16 will return to compete in the consolation.

Gabhart is shooting for the school record in the butterfly. She already holds three school records.

“It’s going to be an uphill battle, but there’s nobody I’d rather have to take that on than her,” BNL coach Adam Young said. “She’s due for a big swim. Anything is possible. It’s definitely tougher this year because swimming in Indiana is pretty solid.”

Tapering can make up that time difference. Gabhart also has the experience factor as she makes her fourth consecutive trip to the state finals. She’s competed in the breaststroke, individual medley and butterfly in previous appearances.

“I feel pretty confident,” Gabhart said. “Another week is going to help. It’s my last year. I just want to break the record and have a good state meet.”

Her team-given nickname “Marshmallow” implies softness, but nobody has been tougher. She ranks in the top five all-time in every event (except diving, slacker). “I would say – and it’s the here and now – that I feel confident she’s the best all-around swimmer we’ve ever had,” Young said. The legacy and record she leaves behind back up that argument.

Gabhart is considering attending the University of Southern Indiana and continuing her swimming career. That way, the butterfly won’t be her finale when she flutters away from the BNL program.

“I got a little demotivated at the beginning of the season,” she said. “I just wanted to be done with swimming. But now, I can’t be done.”

The prelims at IUPUI will begin at 6 p.m. The Saturday finals and consolations will start at 1 p.m.