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Tuesday, March 20 Sports

Abel wins 400 IM, places second in 1,500 at YMCA Nationals

Recent Staples High graduate and Wilton Wahoos swimmer Verity Abel wanted to close her high school career with a memorable showing at the YMCA Long Course Nationals held this week in Indianapolis.

Abel is on her way to accomplishing just that.

After a second place finish in the 1,500 meter freestyle on Monday and a third in the 400 freestyle on Tuesday, Abel won the 400 individual medley on Wednesday at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

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The five-day meet, one of the biggest on the calendar, concludes Friday.

"It's such an exciting meet to be with the team, it's so much fun," Abel said. "All the training through the whole year to come together for this one meet. The events are spread out the whole week so you aren't overwhelmed."

Caitlynn Moon, of DeKalb, Ill. won the 1,500 with a time of 16:40.05, which smashed the meet record by over 19 seconds.

"That was a crazy swim," Abel said. "(Moon) got the national record by (almost) 20 seconds and she's trained so hard to develop her long distance swimming."

Abel (17:01.61) stayed with Moon for the first third of the race before Moon quickly pulled away during the middle stages and didn't slow her pace whatsoever. Moon's slowest lap was 34.03.

Abel won the 1,500 at the same meet two years ago with a time of 17:04.29 while Moon (17:06.46) won it in 2013 as Abel competed in Junior Nationals.

Abel rebounded to take first in the 400 IM with a time of 4:56.69. Abel edged Julie Lajoie (4:57.50), of Holyoke, Mass.

"It was really thrilling," Abel said. "After the prelims session this morning I had a gleam in my eye; once in the race I decided to go all out to accomplish that goal. I was really happy to do that."

The Duke-bound Abel will swim in the 800 freestyle on Friday, her last event of an outstanding four-year high school career.

"That definitely is weird, I'm trying to keep my emotions aside," Abel said. "It will hit me hard when I get to Friday."