MIDDLETON — Victory never tasted so sweet for Sophie Fiske. Or, at least it would taste sweet once she got home and cut into the pineapple she won in the Cardinal Relay Invitational on Saturday.
The final event of the annual swim meet is the coveted “pineapple relay” featuring an 8-by-50 freestyle team competition.
The Sun Prairie sophomore swam the anchor leg, and she dove into the pool in second place, nearly a full second behind Middleton. Fiske completed her lap in 22.69 seconds to touch the wall first and put her squad on top with a 3:16.47 finish.
“Everybody wants to be on the pineapple relay,” Sun Prairie coach Nancy Harms said. “I would say that’s almost as exciting as state. State’s more rewarding, ultimately, but when you have a relay with eight people in it, it’s really special.”
Technically, the top three relay teams get to take home pineapples and enjoy the fruits of their labors. Middleton and Verona/Mount Horeb finished second (3:16.95) and third (3:20.44).
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“I don’t really know how to cut it, but I love pineapple,” Fiske said. “It’s fun to have it in our kitchen to remember the race.”
Third-ranked Sun Prairie finished second in team scoring to Middleton, the No. 1-ranked team in WIAA Division 1.
Fiske’s strong finish capped off an impressive individual performance in the team relays.
She led Sun Prairie’s relay to first place in the 200 freestyle (1:38.09) with the top time (:22.80) in the field, and she was second-fastest in the 800 freestyle (1:54.95) in which her team finished second (7:56.40).
No matter where Fiske finished, she was the first one to offer high-fives to her teammates — and her competition.
“I think of it as a community and a friendship,” Fiske said. “We’re all doing this because swimming is super hard, and everyone deserves a high-five.”
Her pool community extends far beyond Sun Prairie. She swims in the offseason with the Madison Aquatic Club, where she teams up with a handful of the girls she competes against in high school.
Fiske has already grown into a leadership position halfway through her sophomore season. It’s easier to step into that role now that she’s the Division 1 leader in the 50 and 100 freestyle, but she’s grown out of the pool, too.
“Last year, she was very quiet,” Harms said. “This year, what we’ve seen in her is that she knows she has a positive impact on people. She doesn’t flaunt that. She just wants everyone to do well.”
And at the Cardinal Relay Invitational, that’s ultimately what Fiske needed. Her individual times helped push her relay teams to the top, but she was more excited for her teammates’ success than her own.
She couldn’t have brought home the pineapple without them.
The host school earned the overall title with the fastest times in five of the meet’s 10 events.
Sophomores Ally Silvestri and Madelyn Lawn were each part of three winning events for Middleton, teaming up to take the 400 medley (4:05.03) and the 300 breaststroke (3:16.34).
Third-place Madison West finished just four points shy of Sun Prairie. The Regents took first in the 300 backstroke (2:52.09) and 300 butterfly (2:52.76), both times led by seniors Katrina Marty and Molly Messner.
Verona/Mount Horeb took fourth place and earned the top time in the 200 medley (1:49.36) with a team of Sara Stewart, Grace Bennin, Josie McCartney and Kenzie Zuchl.
Madison Memorial was fifth with top-five finishes in nine of the 10 events.