Swimming, Northeast/Southwest/Lincoln High duals, 12/14

Lincoln Southwest sophomore Alana Palmer competes in the girls 100-yard butterfly on Monday, Dec. 14, 2015, at Lincoln High.

JOURNAL STAR FILE PHOTO

Alana Palmer had September circled in her mind.

The Lincoln Southwest senior-to-be was going to decide then where she would swim in college.

But a recent visit to Wisconsin changed her decision process. Palmer's mind was made up, and on Saturday, the three-time individual state champion committed to the Badgers.

"I just knew early and it kind of sped up really fast," said Palmer, who will join the Badger program in 2018.

Palmer, who swims club for Lincoln Select, said she enjoyed everything about her visit to Madison two weeks ago. The campus. The location. The team. The coaches. "And I just kind of fell in love with it," she said.

Palmer will join a swimming program that continues to get better. Under fifth-year coach Whitney Hite, the Badger women have finished seventh or better at the Big Ten Championships, including a fourth-place showing this past season. Wisconsin has placed 15th or better four times at NCAAs under Hite, who has been known to develop fast freestyle swimmers.

For Palmer, the decision came down to Wisconsin and Ohio State.

"There was really nothing that I didn't like (about Ohio State)," Palmer said. "My decision kind of came down to what I felt was right, and where I could see myself in the future, and it was Wisconsin."

Palmer has been one of the state's top freestyle swimmers for quite some time now. She is a two-time state champion in the 200-yard free, and the current state-meet record holder in the event (1 minute, 48.74 seconds). She won state gold in the 500 freestyle as a sophomore, owns three silver medals and has been part of several gold-medal relay teams. She excels in the sprint and long-distance events.

Palmer is the latest NCAA Division I swimmer to come out of Southwest, the two-time defending state champion. Last year's senior class produced four D-I swimmers — Dannie Dilsaver (California), Olivia Calegan (North Carolina State), Sydney Schneider (Nebraska-Omaha) and Clara Walstad (Nebraska). More are likely to follow.

Grand Island's Matthew Novinski, a six-time state champion, will be swimming for the Wisconsin men this upcoming school year.

Reach the writer at 402-473-2639 or cgrell@journalstar.com. On Twitter @LJSSportsGrell.

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Sports editor

Clark Grell is sports editor.

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