By MATT GERHART
Tribune-Herald sports writer
It was probably just a matter of time for Cara Jernigan, and for Jernigan that time came Saturday.
The Kealakehe senior added to her record collection in the 100 breaststroke, setting a Big Island Interscholastic Federation mark in her signature event in 1 minute, 5.65 seconds at Kamehameha’s Naeole Pool. Waiakea’s Madisyn Uekawa (1:05.77) set the previous record two years ago.
“We were looking at (a list of times) last week at HPA and noticed the record,” Waveriders coach Steve Borowski said. “We really hadn’t paid much attention to it before that.”
Just a week later, the record was hers.
It’s all the more impressive when you consider the University of Idaho-bound Jernigan has her eyes on bigger things ahead.
Borowski said while Jernigan was trying hard Saturday, none of his swimmers was tapering for the regular-season BIIF meet. Jernigan’s main focus is getting ready to defend her Hawaii High School Athletic Association title in the breaststroke. The state meet is Feb. 14-15 at Naeole Pool, which also will host BIIFs on Jan 31-Feb. 1.
“It doesn’t work if you taper for every meet,” Borowski said. “We’re in the middle of some pretty heavy training.”
The veteran coach considers Kamehameha’s pool fast, though not as fast as Kona Community Aquatic Center.
On Dec. 20 at her home pool, Jernigan set a Hawaii age-group short course record in the breaststroke in 1:03.08. Jernigan’s personal-best not only made her the No. 1-ranked breaststroker in Hawaii this year, but it also turned out to be great for her resume.
Borowski said Jernigan had previously been receiving moderate attention from colleges, but the state mark earned her a scholarship offer from Idaho, which she accepted.
“It was like bees to honey once schools heard about the time,” Borowski said,
Division I offers have been few and far between for even the island’s best swimmers the past few years.
“It seemed like a good fit,” Borowski said. “Good engineering school. She wants to visit soon.”
In addition to the breaststroke, Borowski said the Vandals liked Jernigan’s versatility. He expects her to also be able to excel in college in the freestyle and individual medley.
Jernigan competed against Uekawa for years, finally catching her and everyone else last season at the HHSAA championships, which she won in 1:05:00.
So how low can she go at BIIFs and states?
“We’ll see how she’s going in practice,” Borowski said. “She’s familiar with the pool. It depends on how well she’s doing.”