PHILADELPHIA — It was so long ago that Emily Rhodes couldn't remember the result of the race.
A little stroll down memory lane, though, fills in the blanks. In 2010 — an eternity ago for the Cornell-bound senior — Rhodes, as an eighth-grader, swam the butterfly leg on a medley relay with two freshmen (Rachel Repke and Tara O'Prey) and a sophomore, Emily Baturka. That year's Episcopal Academy squad finished second, Rhodes and Co. beaten by a veteran Germantown Academy team.
Fast forward four years — the four that she can remember, crucially — and Rhodes hasn't again tasted defeat at the Eastern Interscholastic Swimming and Diving Championships.
Teaming with Emma Seiberlich, McKenzie Street and Sarah Baturka, Rhodes made it four-for-four in the medley relay, the Churchwomen claiming the win by over a second in 1:43.97 at La Salle's Kirk Natatorium Friday.
Victory in the medley relay has become something of a signature for the EA program in recent years.
"That is pretty impressive," Rhodes said. "That's certainly something to be proud of. ... Everyone who was on that original relay has graduated now. I'm sort of the last surviving member of that relay. So it means a lot that there are good underclassmen that can step up and keep it going."
Rhodes made sure she marked her senior year with an individual triumph, finally getting over the hump and winning the 100 fly. Her time of 54.78 was a hair faster than her Suburban Swim Club training partner and the two-time defending champ at Easterns, Val Yoshimura of Baldwin. Filling in spots three and four were Street (56.13) and Seiberlich (56.23).
Easterns was the one jewel missing in the crown of Delaware County's best ever butterflyer.
"That's just a very fun race," Rhodes said. "That's my sixth time swimming it at Easterns and my first time I've ever gotten first. That was an incredible feeling. There was a lot of completion in that race, and it really is anybody's race, and that's what makes it so rewarding."
Rhodes has owned the Delco record since she was a sophomore, toppling the mark of 56.50 held by Garnet Valley grad Jen Ritins since 1985. In two years, she's lowered it almost two seconds. Street's prelims time of 55.59 briefly displaced Rhodes' finals time from Easterns last year, but Rhodes reclaimed the record a heat later in 55.53.
In the final she left no doubt, resisting the charge of Yoshimura, who took second in 54.93.
Continuing the theme of success from the participants in the medley relay, Baturka, the reigning Daily Times Swimmer of the Year, kicked late to win the 50 free in 23.86. She had set the top time in prelims at 23.85. Bernadette Tankle's sixth-place result in the 200 free was the Churchwomen's other A-final swim of the day.