“To do it here, this has been my home away from home. …I’ve had some great swims here and to be able to do this here just seals the deal.”
Kropp swam a patient and controlled race in the 100 breaststroke to beat out Mater Dei senior Melissa Bates, who led through the first three quarters.
After turning it on over the final 25 yards to touch the pad .43 seconds ahead of Bates, Kropp looked upward to the timing board and pumped an exultant fist into the air.
“Melissa is definitely a sprinter and for me my best event is the 200 breaststroke,” Kropp said. “I’m more of a distance swimmer, so I said, ‘You know what, I’m gonna back off and let Melissa do what she does best and then take my time with my strokes, make sure everything’s perfect and then come back with a bang.’”
The 200 IM was billed as a showdown between Kropp and Meghan Hawthorne of Chaminade and Kropp actually topped her prelims mark of 2:00.63, which was a season-best.
In the end, though, it was simply Hawthorne’s day, and a record-breaking one at that. She eclipsed the old Division I finals record of 1:58.86 by swimming a 1:58.74, fourth-best all-time in the state, two days after being edged by Kropp in the 200 IM prelims.
“We definitely motivated each other,” Kropp said of herself and Hawthorne, who have enjoyed a healthy rivalry both in the Mission League and in CIF during their prep careers. “We both were trying to go under two minutes and even though I didn’t do it, I feel like I did a good job of helping her get the time that she wanted.”