FREMONT — Jonathan Novinski set a new standard in high school swimming's longest event on Saturday.

The motivating factor: big brother's advice.

The Grand Island senior blazed his way to state-record time of 4 minutes, 32.79 seconds in the 500-yard freestyle during the Heartland Athletic Conference swimming finals at the Dillon Family Aquatic Center. He bested the previous state record by nearly 2 seconds.

Novinski swam a 4:43 during Friday's prelims and said his legs felt tired during that race. He talked to his brother Matthew -- himself a former standout in this conference and now swimming at Wisconsin -- on the phone prior to the finals.

"He told me, 'You're a distance swimmer. Go for it and you won't die,'" Novinski said. "I believed him and just went all out. During, it felt like a good swim."

More impressive is Novinski had barely started his taper yet. His coach Brian Jensen said Novinski had about one day of rest entering the HAC meet.

Novinski now aims to go lower at the state meet. He wants to go under 4:30, and Jensen thinks he can clean up some minor things to accomplish the feat.

"I guess we'll just have to find out," said Novinski, who also won Saturday's 200 freestyle in a meet-record time of 1:41.56. "Toward conference, it seemed unreachable at one point, until today. It's given me the confidence that I can do that."

Novinski wasn't the only swimmer to take advantage of the fast settings of the Dillon Center pool.

Lincoln East senior Alex Petty set a meet record in the 200 individual medley, winning in 1:56.36. He also won the 100 breaststroke in :58.03, helping the Spartans capture their second straight HAC title.

"That was one of our main goals throughout the season," Petty said. "We lost a lot of seniors from last year, but we were looking to keep going strong this year. I was really impressed with how the group performed, especially the freshmen."

East outdueled Lincoln Southwest for the crown. The Spartans, who trailed entering the final three events, finished with 346 points and Southwest had 333.

Lincoln High's Charles Sieglaff had his best meet as a prep swimmer, winning the 50 freestyle in a meet-record time of :21.64 and edging Lincoln Northeast's Caden Feit (:21.76). Feit and Sieglaff swapped places on the medal stand in the 100 freestyle.

Lincoln High coach Richard Conradt said it's possible that Sieglaff's win was the first by a Lincoln High boys swimmer in this meet (not counting diving) since David Foster in the mid-1990s.

"I really wanted to get Lincoln High on top for something," said Sieglaff, who dropped nearly 0.8 of a second on his 50 entering the HAC meet. "It's been a long time."

Lincoln Pius X's Jordan Coffey won the 100 backstroke in :51.16 and the Silver Hawks got a boost with wins in the 200 and 400 freestyle relays. Their time of 1:28.03 and the 200 free relay was a meet record.

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


Sports editor

Clark Grell is sports editor.

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