All District swimming: Bispo undefeated in four years at Downey

June 25, 2008 

Karlee Bispo finished her high school swimming career the same way she started it. It's also the same way every one of her races ended: with a victory.

It was four years of perfection for one of the Sac-Joaquin Section's top girls swimmers. Eight Sac-Joaquin Section titles. More than 100 individual wins. One national record.

It all adds up for The Bee's 2008 girls swimmer of the year. With this year's award, Bispo also is the first four-time Modesto Bee player of the year in any sport.

The frightening thing is, Bispo says she feels she's improved markedly this year ... and is capable of much more.

"I did a lot of long-course training at UOP, and it really helped," Bispo said. "Right from the beginning, I just felt so much stronger."

Plus, she's hit the weights with the hopes of adding more strength and flexibility. So far, it's paid off.

She opened the Sac-Joaquin Section Swimming Championships with a bang, setting a national record in the 200-yard freestyle in 1 minutes, 45.14 seconds. She won a second section title hours later, in the 100 freestyle. That gave her the maximum eight section championships in four years. Only Oakmont's Summer Sanders -- an Olympic gold medalist -- has matched that feat.

She chose not to shave or taper for the section championships, which makes her national record even more impressive.

"Sometimes, when you don't taper, you feel pretty tired the next day," Bispo said. "But even with all the working out, I didn't feel that way. I still felt pretty good.

"Swimming so fast without tapering, it really told me how much I've improved through high school. And I feel like I have a lot more in me."

Next up for Bispo is the U.S. Olympic Trials. She leaves for Omaha this weekend and starts competing on Monday. She's qualified for five events.

"There's more anticipation than anything else," Bispo said. "Three years ago, I qualified for my first event in the trials. And now, all of a sudden, it's here."

After that comes the University of Texas, where she's part of the top recruiting class in the nation, according to collegeswimming.com. The same Web site ranks Bispo as the country's No. 6 college prospect.

Not bad for a swimmer whose school doesn't have a pool.

Downey's pool was in the process of being replaced during her senior year, so she and her teammates trained at Davis High in the late afternoons.

"It was a little strange, but it worked out," Bispo said.

Home pool or not, Bispo never lost a high school race. It's a record that won't be topped.

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