Girls' Swimming Notebook

Wood star aims to shine brighter

By Joe Santoliquito - Philadelphia Inquirer Correspondent

Carol Crouthamel does not mind challenges. In fact, the Archbishop Wood sophomore goes out and looks for them. It's something she's grown accustomed to since she was younger, swimming against her two older brothers. Catholic League swimming was not much of a test for Crouthamel last season. The 5-foot-5 star tore through the competition to finish the year undefeated, and she was the league champion in the 100-yard breaststroke and 200 individual medley. Her best time in the 100 breaststroke is 1 minute, 4 seconds, and her best in the 200 IM is 2:07. This year, Crouthamel is in a position to dominate the Catholic League again, with sights set even higher. For Crouthamel, it's all about working toward being the best. "I like challenging situations. I like swimming against people that are faster than me," she said. "I always like a good challenge. Last year was a challenge. I was just going to go out and get a feel for the high school level, to see what was out there." Crouthamel swam everything last season. It was not unusual to see her in the 50, 200 and 500 freestyles. Her first swim as a freshman was the 50 freestyle, which might be her worst event. Crouthamel conceded that her endurance is much greater at this stage in her development than her ability to sprint. "Carol can swim anything she wants," said Charlie Stillwell, who has taken over as Wood's coach after being an assistant under Joe McGhee last season. "I remember giving her that [ 50 freestyle ] assignment last year. She didn't complain about it. She won. Someone at that level, they rise to the challenge. "She's definitely one of the top swimmers in the area, for sure. She's only a sophomore, and she has a lot of swimming still left in her." Stillwell said Crouthamel does a lot of other things to improve, like weight work and running, and she takes advice well. If he sees something wrong with her stroke, he'll bring it to her attention, and she'll adjust. She never complains. Last spring, at Senior Nationals in Buffalo, N.Y., Crouthamel placed eighth in the 200-meter breaststroke in 2:35 and 13th in the 100 breaststroke in 1:13. "Swimming in high school is definitely fun, but I just want to go back to nationals this spring and try to make the Olympic-trial cut," Crouthamel said. "My other goal is to go out and win the 100 breast in high school and have our team win the Catholic League championship."