Traverse City Central’s Ella Cabbage and Traverse City West’s Kira Adams have competed in pools with and against each other for as long as they can remember.
They also attend schools considered each other’s biggest rival.
Yet, they will be rooting for each other at the weekend’s Lower Peninsula Division 1 Girls Swimming & Diving Finals at Eastern Michigan University. Adams’ family will be cheering on Cabbage as much as they do her. Same for Cabbage’s family.
They are not rivals this weekend. The girls with a long-time friendship are teammates. West and Central are in a cooperative program for swimming along with Traverse City St. Francis. The co-op goes by the moniker Traverse City Tritons.
Adams and Cabbage, both juniors, came into the season listed among the swimmers to watch in Northern Michigan. They didn’t disappoint, leading the Tritons to their third straight Coastal Conference title.
This weekend’s Finals will provide them with a very special moment. They both plan to look for each other the second they finish their respective events. They are treasuring the opportunity to compete in the Finals together.
“One hundred percent we always do,” Adams said of the chance they will be the first person they see after competing. “We get to warm up with each other at the same time and prepare to race together as well.”
“I go right after Ella so we’ll be together the whole way,” Adams said. ‘We will get see other compete — It is very special.”
Adams and Cabbage hope their families capture more memories for future viewing.
‘We have videos of Kira swimming and me in the background screaming and vice versa,” Cabbage said. “I wouldn’t want to go to states with anyone else.
“Our families are really close,” Cabbage continued. “It’s really special for it being just the two of us in the Finals.”
Adams used the conference finals to meet the MHSAA Finals qualifying time in the 100-yard breaststroke. She also competed well in the 200 individual medley, backstroke and freestyle events in 2023. Cabbage had qualified in the 100 backstroke early in the season.
Cabbage and Adams were at last years’ Finals, Cabbage a member of the 200 medley relay that finished 16th and Adams an alternate for the relay.
They were really looking forward to getting on the road to the Finals this week, recalling last year’s trip featuring inclement early winter weather at Oakland University, second-year coach Megan Petroelje noted. She was the driver for last year’s qualifiers and will be again this year.
“Last year we had quite a snowstorm on our way down,” Petroelje said after noting the weather forecast for the trip to Ypsilanti. “Unfortunately, it was not the best start.
“We basically fought the weather all the way down and all the way home,” she continued. “I am excited to see two these two perform in a completely different environment than they’re used to, and I think they’re excited too.”
Petroelje is thrilled to have two individual qualifiers. It is the first time in many years the co-op produced two individual finalists. For a long time this season, Cabbage was concerned she was going to be alone.
“Kira slid in at the end, and it was awesome,” Petroelje said. “I am so thankful they get to do this together.
“It is so much more fun to train with someone and have someone to motivate you and keep you accountable,” she continued. “The fact that there are two, I am super excited about.”
Adams and Cabbage have been teammates since their beginning days of swimming with their club Traverse City Breakers. They trained as youngsters in the same pools – the Grand Traverse YMCA and the Traverse City Civic Center. Petroelje also coached the qualifiers as Breakers.
While they currently attend rival schools, the don’t think of themselves as rivals in any way shape or form.
“We’ve grown up swimming together,” Adams said. “While some people might see it as a rivalry, it’s really not for us because we’ve known each other for so long.”
Tom Spencer is a longtime MHSAA-registered basketball and soccer official, and former softball and baseball official, and he also has coached in the northern Lower Peninsula area. He previously has written for the Saginaw News, Bay County Sports Page and Midland Daily News. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Manistee, Wexford, Missaukee, Roscommon, Ogemaw, Iosco, Alcona, Oscoda, Crawford, Kalkaska, Grand Traverse, Benzie, Leelanau, Antrim, Otsego, Montmorency, Alpena, Presque Isle, Cheboygan, Charlevoix and Emmet counties.
PHOTOS (Top) From left: Traverse City Tritons Ella Cabbage, coach Megan Petroelje and Kira Adams. (Middle) Adams swims one of her races this season. (Below) Cabbage launches during a meet this fall. (Photos by Andrea Hartman.)
WEST BLOOMFIELD — When she started high school swimming last fall, West Bloomfield sophomore Elizabeth Eichbrecht didn’t know what expectations to have, given she knew full well the high level of competition there was throughout the state.
Well, after two seasons, it’s safe to say Eichbrecht has blown any expectations she had out of the water, pun intended.
At the MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 1 Finals on Nov. 17-18 at Eastern Michigan University, Eichbrecht won her third and fourth individual championships.
She won the 200-yard freestyle in a time of 1:48.08, more than three seconds ahead of the next finisher. The winning time qualified for All-America recognition and bested her first-place time from the 2022 Finals by 0.34 seconds.
Later on, Eichbrecht won the 500 freestyle in a time of 4:47.66, more than 11 seconds ahead of the rest of the field. Her All-American time in that event was more than five seconds better than her winning time in 2022.
Two years, four Finals titles. Not too shabby.
“Yes it’s surprising, because there are so many fast girls and we are all very competitive,” Eichbrecht said.
Eichbrecht already holds six school records – in all four freestyle events, the 200 individual medley and 100 butterfly.
She also owns Oakland Activities Association records in the 200 and 500 freestyles and the 100 butterfly.
“I like the distance events more, mainly because I don’t have to all-out sprint,” Eichbrecht said.
West Bloomfield head coach Ronson Webster said the big reason why Eichbrecht was even better this year as a sophomore after making such an impact as a freshman wasn’t necessarily because she was bigger and stronger, although those were contributing factors.
Mainly, her success this year was the validation that she belonged after such a great freshman season.
“She gained more confidence this year going into her races,” he said. “She focused on racing her race and not who was next to her. Meeting the time we worked for was the goal. Winning is a bonus.”
While Eichbrecht excels at so many events, her specialty has been the 200 and 500 freestyles, which is stating the obvious given the Finals titles she has won in those events.
“Her training is very specific as it is for every swimmer on our team,” Webster said. “Everyone is trained differently. Her technique is very important and specific to her event and body size. Since she is shorter, she can’t swim the same as a tall person. Having the right technique designed for the swimmer and the correct race plan goes a long way.”
Eichbrecht next will focus on her club season for Supernova Swim Team based out of Farmington Hills, and she already is looking forward to competing at the Winter Junior Nationals in Columbus from Dec. 6-9.
By the time her career is over, it’s safe to say Eichbrecht might be the best all-time from a West Bloomfield school that’s not known as much for swimming as other Oakland County powers such as Farmington Hills Mercy or the Birmingham schools. But Eichbrecht is relishing putting her school on the swimming map with all her success so far.
“I love swimming at WB,” she said. “My teammates are amazing, and they work super hard. I’m super proud of all the work they put in this season, and I can’t wait for next season.”
Keith Dunlap has served in Detroit-area sports media for more than two decades, including as a sportswriter at the Oakland Press from 2001-16 primarily covering high school sports but also college and professional teams. His bylines also have appeared in USA Today, the Washington Post, the Detroit Free Press, the Houston Chronicle and the Boston Globe. He served as the administrator for the Oakland Activities Association’s website from 2017-2020. Contact him at [email protected] with story ideas for Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties
PHOTOS (Top) West Bloomfield’s Elizabeth Eichbrecht swims the winning 200-yard freestyle Nov. 18 at Eastern Michigan University. (Middle) Eichbrecht talks with runner-up Yan Yee Adler from Ann Arbor Pioneer after also winning the 500 freestyle. (Click for more from High School Sports Scene.)