Poised and focused, Kenilworth resident Ingrid Wall awaits the starter to sound. As a sprinter, Wall knows a good dive is key — often, she who enters first, touches first.
During the Illinois Long Course Age Group Champions Meet, held July 31 at Pleasant Prairie RecPlex in Wisconsin, Wall did both.
Clocking in at 27.45 seconds, after springing from her block faster than the seven girls swimming beside her could even blink, Wall set the state record in the 50-meter freestyle for 12-year-old girls. The previous record of 27.61 stood for 17 years.
Additionally, her time is currently the fastest individual swim in the country for 12-year-old girls this year.
Despite the quick start and a record-setting time, Wall was challenged down the stretch.
“I was in the lead, but I saw (an opponent) coming up close, so I kept looking to check where she was,” Wall said. “When I touched, I looked to the board to see my time, but I was pretty sure I had won.”
With only milliseconds separating winners from losers — and winners from record holders — Wall’s family stared anxiously at the time board for the official results.
“From the stands, it’s especially hard to be sure, so I couldn’t help but be nervous,” said Wall’s mother, Sheryl. “When we saw Ingrid’s time, we realized she not only had won, but also set a new record. We, of course, started screaming and yelling because we were so happy and proud.”
That effort may represent the most recent notch on Wall’s belt, but it’s not the first, and most likely not the last. Wall also set the record in both the 50-meter freestyle and 50-yard free when she was 10.
“Ingrid is super-aware, physically and mentally, of how she performs,” said New Trier Swim Club coach Rick Peterson. “She can break down any race to the most minute detail, including starts, breathing patterns, fatigue and technique. She has wanted that record since the beginning of this past spring/summer season, and that laser-like focus was key in achieving such an outstanding result.”
Only a seventh-grader, Wall has her eyes on the future.
“I want to swim in high school, make the Olympic Trials and the National Swim Team,” Wall said.
It’s the mental component of competitive swimming that Wall identifies as the determining factor in achieving her aspirations.
“I’m not too worried about my strokes because I’m always correcting them,” Wall said. “But I have to have the right mind-set. I can’t get too down on myself, or too stressed.”
In order to help alleviate the pressure of swimming full-time, Wall has made it a priority to play another sport on the side. She recently picked up lacrosse, a sport she has quickly grown to love.
“I really really like lacrosse — it’s so much fun,” Wall said. “I like playing another sport because it helps me take my mind off swimming sometimes. It also helps make swimming more fun because I’m not practicing every day.”
As if her swimming accomplishments weren’t enough to validate superb athleticism, Wall received the Most Improved Player award last season on her lacrosse team.
Wall will look to continue her success in the pool this fall when the short-course season begins in October. But in the meantime she’s been soaking up every last bit of summer vacation — like a typical 12-year-old.