Mia Piljevic: Breaking Records and the Journey to State

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Mia Piljevic: Breaking Records and the Journey to State

By Erin Kaihara

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The crowd’s deafening cheers quiet with three short, sharp blows of the referee’s whistle as fans enter the state of calm before a storm. The swimmers ease into the frigid water and begin to calm their nerves. Junior Mia Piljevic‘s hands grab the block and she places her feet against the wall with practiced ease. In these final moments, she takes a deep breath. The referee gives his whistle one last blow and is followed by a second referee repeating those famous words: “Take your mark,” he says. The silence creeps back in, and suddenly, beep. Just like that, they’re off.

This past Saturday, the Niles West girl’s varsity swimming and diving team competed at the IHSA Girls’ Swimming & Diving Sectional meet held at Deerfield High School. The team walked away with a ninth place win out of thirteen teams, three broken school records, and a qualification for state.

“It feels pretty good knowing that I qualified for state for the second year in a row. It shows that my hard work and dedication throughout the season pays off,” Piljevic said.

Piljevic broke the school’s record for the 100-yd fly with a time of 1:00.17 seconds, and was able to qualify for state by breaking her own 100-yd backstroke record with a time of 57.64 seconds.

Many people have expressed how proud they are of Piljevic, including her long-term teammate and best friend, junior Katelin Avenir.

“I’m really glad Mia is going to state. We’ve been training together since we were nine years old. We’ve known each other for a very long time and we’ve always been on the same team. We’re always cheering each other on and encouraging each other to go faster. I think it’s great she’s achieving all her goals, and I hope I can join her next year,” Avenir said.

Avenir currently holds the school’s record for the 200-yd Individual Medley with a time of 2:15.59 seconds.

Girls’ varsity swim coach Jason Macejak said that he believes Piljevic’s experience from last year will help keep her emotions in check.

She’s looking forward to this weekend and she’s excited to be going to state again. Regardless of how much experience you have with club, it’s a different experience going to a high school state meet for the first time. It’s an experience like no other. She got to experience that last year, and now she knows what to expect,” Macejak said.

A traditional state send-off was held today for Piljevic at 7:30 a.m in the Oakton Lobby. The state meet will be held at Evanston High School on both Friday and Saturday.