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Beating the best
After breaking Weir's record, North phenom eyes two state titles

There was the expected happiness after her record-breaking race, but Caroline Kenney still isn't super giddy about the county meet two weeks ago.

The North Gwinnett sophomore wiped two-time Olympic medalist Amanda Weir's name from the county meet record book in the 200-yard freestyle at the meet, but she took it all in stride for the most part. Asked about it a week later, she tried to keep it all in perspective.

"Yeah, that was kind of exciting," said Kenney, who sees Weir regularly during training at SwimAtlanta. "After I swam in prelims, I was kind of looking and the records and starting thinking about it."

The significance of her first-place swim certainly impressed others. Her winning time of 1 minute, 49.63 seconds in the 200 free improved Weir's county-meet record of 1:50.43 from 2003, and also put her in range for Weir's all-time county mark in the event of 1:48.14, set in 2004.

"We didn't really talk about (breaking Weir's record) too much," North coach Doug Nieman said.

"It was more cool for folks that knew how awesome Amanda Weir was. So to break one of Amanda Weir's records is fantastic."

And Kenney is just a sophomore.

She had a good state meet last year, finishing second in the 100 free, but she has even higher goals this season. She has the state's best 200 free time and is ranked second in the 100 free.

"My goal is to try and go my best time in each race," Kenney said. "And I'd maybe like to get the county record, not just the county meet record."

If she does break Weir's record, her reaction will probably mirror her response at county - not much fanfare. Nieman said Kenney is easy going about swimming, partly because she still does it for fun, adding that she doesn't consider it "a job," like some athletes who start to get burned out in a sport.

The coach added that most of Kenney's teachers at North didn't know she was an athlete until they heard her name on morning announcements.

"(Kenney) never talks about (how good she is at swimming)," Nieman said. "That's the cool part about it, she doesn't brag or boast about her accomplishments. She's just a strong friend to everybody on the team."

Nieman also likes that Kenney is a leader and a role model for the team. She maintains a 4.0 GPA and ranks 30th academically in the sophomore class despite the rigors of year-round swimming, and she has a very critical role on the Bulldogs' high school team.

Last year she was on a team with two college-caliber senior swimmers, Meg D'Urso and Sarah Looney, but now she is clearly North's most talented swimmer. She's not the most vocal leader, but she said she tries to lead by example.

"Last year I was the freshman so I was new to everything," Kenney said. "I was just the freshie on the team. But this year I'm trying to be more of a leader than a follower."

A good chance to lead comes Saturday for the state swimming finals at Westminster. She is the main cog in North's 200 medley and 200 free relays, but also could score big points in her two individual events.

"I think I'll definitely be more confident (at state) than last year," Kenney said.

"Last year I didn't know what to expect. I'm looking forward to state. It's fun because it's really team-oriented. You're doing it for the team."

SideBar: The Kenney File

· Who: Caroline Kenney

· Sport: Swimming

· School: North Gwinnett

· Class: Sophomore

· Favorite movie: "Benchwarmers"

· Favorite food: Macaroni and cheese

· Favorite athlete: Natalie Coughlin

· Favorite music group: Avenged Sevenfold

· Noteworthy:

· Holds school records in the 50, 100, 200 and 500 freestyle races

· Broke a county meet record in the 200 free with a first-place finish

· Also was second at the county meet in the 100 free

· Enters the state meet with the best 200 free time in the state this season

· Maintains a 4.0 GPA, ranking 30th in her class