State swimming: Chromey goes out a champ as Cardinals take fourth
Alexandria’s Nic Chromey had already cemented himself as one of the top swimmers in program history by winning a state title in the 100 breaststroke a year ago.
On Saturday, the senior added to his legacy with another championship in that event. Chromey finished his career with the best race of his life, setting a new personal-record time of 55.54 to beat second-place finisher Andrew Karpenko of Minnehaha Academy by more than a second.
“It’s amazing,” Chromey said. “I have no regrets. I swam the best race I could.”
Chromey set out this season with lofty goals after winning last year’s 100 breaststroke. He knew he wanted another title, but he wanted to set the state record in the process. That was set in 2015 when Humphrey Pruett of Breck-Blake swam it in 54.75.
Chromey admits he wonders what might have happened had he not had to miss 10 days of training after dealing with pneumonia earlier this season. He got back in the pool for a meet at the Central Lakes Conference championship on Feb. 10.
“I didn’t think it would cost me the state championship,” he said. “I had a lot of faith in the training I put in before I got sick. My goals were much higher than a state championship before I got sick. I was just worried that maybe I wouldn’t get the time I wanted at the beginning of the season.”
Chromey wanted to get in the 54-second range, but he was not dwelling on that on Saturday.
“I swam the best race I could today with the current strength that I had,” Chromey said. “I’m ecstatic about it. I was happy I could come back to finals and swim a faster time than in prelims.”
Chromey leaves as a two-time state champion. That puts him up there among the best to come through this program, but he hopes he left an impression by more than just what he did as an individual in the pool.
“I want to be remembered as more than just a name on the record board,” he said. “I tried my best to talk to the young people, give them wisdom. Try to be remembered as someone who cared genuinely about the team. I could not be more proud of how we performed as a team today.”
CARDINALS FINISH TOP FIVE
Chromey’s championship was part of a big day overall for Alexandria.
The Cardinals finished fourth as a team in the Class A field with 182 points. Breck-Blake won the championship with 347 points. Winona was second at 224 and Saint Thomas Academy (205) rounded out the top three.
“It’s really, really great,” junior Nick Olson said. “It was a great improvement (from last year). I know our 400 free relay actually finished seventh place last year, and bringing that up to fourth place was really meaningful to me after being on that relay last year.”
Olson was joined by senior Jordon Baas, eighth-grader Nicolas Welle and junior Patrick Chromey in that fourth-place finish (3:14.07) to wrap up the meet in the 400 freestyle relay.
The 200-medley group of Zach Dummer, N. Chromey, Olson and Baas kicked off the meet with a second-place finish in 1:38.05. The 200 freestyle relay group of Baas, Welle, P. Chromey and N. Chromey then added another second-place finish in 1:26.41.
“Our team is just really great,” Olson said. “We pull together these relays, and they bring the team together.”
Patrick Chromey had a couple of top-eight individual finishes. He was fifth in the 200 freestyle (1:45.18) and seventh in the 100 freestyle (47.73). Baas was on the podium in the 50 freestyle in eighth place (22.05) and Nic Chromey added an eighth-place finish in the 100 butterfly (53.26). All of that added up to finishing one spot in front of Sartell-St. Stephen (144), a team that has controlled Alexandria’s section and conference over the years.
“I never thought we would get fourth at state, never thought we’d have relays getting second at state,” N. Chromey said. “I never thought we’d have a medley relay get second at state, just because we lack strokes sometimes.”
Chromey pointed to the work ethic of guys up and down this lineup as a reason that happened. That is also why Olson and Chromey both said they feel the Cardinals are in good hands going forward as they try to build on a top-five finish in the state.
“We have amazing underclassmen,” N. Chromey said. “They have shoes to fill, but so did we when we were underclassmen. People rise to the occasion, and I have complete faith in their ability to come back and fill the shoes that will be vacated.”
CLASS A STATE SWIMMING AND DIVING
TEAM TOP-FIVE STANDINGS: 1. Breck-Blake - 347; 2. Winona - 224; 3. Saint Thomas Academy - 205; 4. Alexandria - 182; 5. Sartell-St. Stephen - 144
ALEXANDRIA FINALISTS - 200-MEDLEY RELAY - Zach Dummer, Nic Chromey, Nick Olson, Jordon Baas - second place, 1:38.05; 200 FREESTYLE - Patrick Chromey - fifth place, 1:45.18; 200 IM - Nicolas Welle - 11th place, 2:02.93; 50 FREESTYLE - Jordon Baas - eighth place, 22.05; 100 BUTTERFLY - N. Chromey - eighth, 53.26; 100 FREESTYLE - P. Chromey - seventh, 47.73; 200 FREESTYLE RELAY - Baas, Welle, P. Chromey, N. Chromey - second, 1:26.41; 100 BACKSTROKE - Zach Dummer - ninth place, 55.60; 100 BREASTSTROKE - N. Chromey - first place, 55.54; Welle - 16th place, 1:02.65; 400 FREESTYLE RELAY - Baas, Olson, Welle, P. Chromey - fourth place, 3:14.07
ALEXANDRIA PRELIM TIMES (not qualifying for Saturday’s finals): 200 FREESTYLE - Nick Olson - 21st, 1:55.63; 200 IM - Zach Dummer - 20th, 2:06.20; 500 FREESTYLE - Olson - 20th, 5:13.53