Bulldogs' Luehmann transfers her kick to the swimming pool

Friday, February 13, 2009
FRED LYNCH ~ flynch@semissourian.com
Notre Dame's Courtney Luehmann swims in the 100-meter butterfly during the Show Me Conference swim meet Thursday in Perryville. Luehmann won the event.

PERRYVILLE — Courtney Luehmann never swam in high school before joining the Notre Dame team as a senior this year.

"I swam when I was little, but I was really into soccer, which I still am, but I just wanted to try something new to see if I would be any good at it," Luehmann said.

The verdict is in — Luehmann is good at swimming.

Luehmann, who has signed a national letter of intent to play for the Southeast Missouri State soccer team next fall, capped the swimming regular season in strong fashion by helping her Bulldogs team capture its third straight Show Me Conference meet championship Thursday night at the Perry Park Center.

Luehmann won the 100-meter butterfly (1 minute, 13.98 seconds) and placed third in the 50 freestyle (29.45), while teammate Lauren Castleman captured first-place finishes in the 50 freestyle (29.15) and 100 freestyle 1:03.98). They helped Notre Dame score 507 points.

Central finished second with 418 points and Jackson came in third with 393.

Luehmann, who attended Charleston High School before transferring to Notre Dame during the middle of her sophomore year, earned state-qualifying times in both the 50 freestyle and 100 butterfly this winter. She will be swimming those two individual races as well as the team relays in next week's state meet.

When asked if she was a natural swimmer, she said: "No. I think it's definitely the Kupers' coaching," in reference to coaches Lenny and Pat Kuper.

"I really like the team and they've been really good on welcoming me on," Luehmann said. "I've had so much fun. I've made a lot of new friends ... and I love the Kupers. They are great people, great coaches and they've really helped me out."

Luehmann said that she did join a summer swim team that her sister coached this past summer. But she did not practice much with the team because she spent the majority of her time working out for soccer.

Luehmann said that her goals at the state meet are to swim better times and possibly break into the top 16 in her individual events.

"All of her older sisters swam and she just swam for a little bit because she's into soccer, but she's still good and she's muscular and strong," Castleman said about Luehmann. "I'm not surprised [she[']s done well]. I've swam against her before during summer and I knew she's good. And she's aggressive and she's strong and she can do pretty much any sport."

While Notre Dame won the team trophy, Jackson's Allison Hobbs captured the meet MVP.

Hobbs took first place in the 200 freestyle (2.18.41) and 400 freestyle (4:50.24). She swam both in state-qualifying times.

She said the thought never crossed her mind entering the meet that she would be the MVP. She just wanted to swim her best.

"I knew that there were some other people who I also swim with on the Gators swim team [that could have won the MVP]," Hobbs said. "It's amazing. I didn't think I would get it, but I got it somehow, so it's very exciting."

Hobbs is looking forward to swimming at the state meet next week. She said she hopes to earn top-16 finishes so she can swim the second day, something she didn't do last year.

She said her final week of training will be mixed with both hard work and fun.

"Swimming and just getting really pumped up and excited," Hobbs said.

Central's Shannon Nuyt, Jackson's Katie Garner and St. Vincent's Anna Esswein were three other local swimmers who won individual events.

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