Lake Forest's Rachel and Mitch Stoehr have a goal to be one of the rare brother-sister combinations to win a pair of individual state swimming championships.
Actually, they have many goals, but this one would put them in an elite class.
“We want to be the first brother-sister team to win two state championships,” Rachel said of her brother’s stellar accomplishments while a member of the 2010 Lake Forest High School swimming team. “He’s done his part, now I have to do mine.”
A spokesman for the Illinois High School Association could neither confirm nor deny whether the feat has been accomplished before.
Mitch ruled the middle-distance freestyle events in 2010, winning the state title in the 100- and 200-yard freestyles, while the Scouts took 11th as a team. Now he swims for Stanford University, where he was part of the Cardinal’s Pacific 10 Championship 800 freestyle relay team.
Less than a year later as a junior, Rachel swam to a second-place state meet finish in the 500 freestyle and third in the 200 freestyle. All swimmers who finished ahead of her have graduated.
Rachel has a goal for herself — a pair of individual championships — and for the Scouts. “We want a top-three state finish,” she said. “We haven’t done it in a while. It we just concentrate on doing well at state, it will be a good outcome.”
Mitch has individual and team goals as well. After being part of the winning relay team at the conference meet and tasting the NCAA finals as an alternate, he wants a national championship for his team and a spot on the 2012 or 2016 Olympics for himself.
The Cardinal finished third nationally with arch rival Cal taking the title. “We hope to win it this year, and I want to place as an individual,” Mitch said. “We’re really fired up.”
Rachel’s goals beyond this Scout swimming season are making the right college choice. She is taking a studious approach as she looks at schools. She does not intend to discuss potential choices until she makes a decision. Like her brother, she has a solid academic record.
Shared Work Ethic
Though highly talented, people who have coached the Stoehrs credit their hard work and dedication. Their competitive careers began with the Lake Forest Swim Club, when Rachel was 8 and Mitch 10.
“They are very committed and work hard,” Lake Forest Swim Club coach Maureen Sheehan said. “Very few people in this day and age will put that kind of work in.”
Lake Forest High School head boys swim coach and girls assistant Cindy Dell has coached both swimmers. She recognizes a common trait between them.
“They are much more mature than the other kids,” Dell said. “They work very hard and are not afraid of hard work. They’re willing to give their all.”
Rachel swam for the Lake Forest Swim Club over the summer, competing in the Junior Nationals in Stanford’s pool. Mitch swam for Stanford’s swim club in the Senior National Meet the following week in the same tank.
“She brought her times down in every event,” Lake Forest High School coach Carolyn Grevers said of Rachel’s performance. “She had a fantastic summer.”
Rachel swam in the 50-meter freestyle, the 100 freestyle, the 200 freestyle and the 400 freestyle, notching her best performance (56th) in the 200 with a time of 2:05.9. “Nobody from Illinois was better,” she said. “I checked that."
Academic Ties to Sports
Stanford assistant swim coach Ted Knapp knew Mitch had the right kind of work ethic before he saw him swim. Mitch’s academic performance told Knapp all he needed to know.
“The hardest thing for us when we recruit an athlete is getting them through the admission process,” Knapp said of his school’s highly competitive academic standards. “Mitch had one of the strongest academic records we’ve seen. That let us know how hard he works.”
Mitch'a biggest adjustment at Stanford came in the pool.
“The level of competition is different,” Mitch said. “Everyone is bigger and there is a different mentality going into an intercollegiate swim meet. Every meet is very fast.”