Plenty of athletes talk about winning. Carla Gildersleeve is too busy with the work involved in actually doing it.

So when the Franklin junior is asked what she needs to do to climb that final step on the podium at next year’s state girls swim meet — Gildersleeve was second to Carmel senior Trude Rothrock in the 100-yard butterfly last month — she makes it clear that she’s about the process first, then the destination.

“I’m definitely closer (to a championship) than I was last year, obviously, but I think it’s just continuing to focus on the little things,” Gildersleeve said. “You don’t want to focus too much on results, because you’ll get caught up and you won’t focus on what you actually need to be doing.”

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Over the past season, the list of “little things” included applying more discipline to her diet, which Franklin coach Zach DeWitt said gave Gildersleeve more power. That translated to better times in the shorter events — Gildersleeve lowered her own school records this year in the 100 and 200 freestyle as well as the butterfly, and she led off the Grizzly Cubs’ 200 and 400 freestyle relays, both of which set school records and won state medals.

Her efforts have earned her the Daily Journal’s Girls Swimmer of the Year award for a second consecutive season.

Over her three years, Gildersleeve has reached the state awards podium in all six of her individual races — and between those events and relays, she’s been responsible for more than half of Franklin’s points in each of the past three state meets.

She’s moved up the podium every year, and while DeWitt cautioned that climbing that last step is the toughest — “The higher you get up the mountain, the steeper it is” — he said he knows that Gildersleeve will gladly do the necessary work.

“She’s probably one of the most in-love people with the sport,” DeWitt said, “and she appreciates all aspects, whether it’s racing or whether it’s details or planning, or just a random practice on a Tuesday morning. She appreciates it all.

“Those kind of people just don’t come around all that often.”

All-County team

The 2017-18 All-Johnson County team for girls swimming:

Kabria Chapman, Franklin freshman: Finished seventh in the state in the 100-yard breaststroke and swam on state runner-up medley relay team. … Broke school breaststroke record with a time of 1:03.60 at Franklin Sectional.

Jessie Fraley, Franklin junior: Placed 16th at the state meet in the 100 backstroke and earned state medals on medley relay (second) and 400 freestyle relay (eighth). … Won backstroke at sectional with a time of 56.56 seconds, establishing new school record.

Carla Gildersleeve, Franklin junior: Was state runner-up in 100 butterfly and finished fourth in 200 freestyle, breaking her own school records in both events. … Led off 200 and 400 freestyle relays at state meet, helping Grizzly Cubs finish fourth and eighth, respectively.

Sarah Hoffman, Franklin sophomore: Earned points in three events at state meet, finishing 15th in 500 freestyle and 16th in 200 free. … Anchored eighth-place 400 freestyle relay team. … Broke five-minute barrier in 500 freestyle en route to sectional title.

Sarah Kempf, Center Grove senior: Won Johnson County and Franklin Sectional diving titles, posting a sectional score of 429.55. … Placed second at Bloomington South Regional, advancing to state meet for second consecutive season.

Gracey Payne, Franklin freshman: Broke through in postseason, posting a seventh-place state finish in 100 freestyle and anchoring two top-four relays (medley and 200 freestyle). … Also a state qualifier in 50 freestyle.

Ella Pheifer, Franklin senior: Finished her career by scoring in four events at state meet, swimming on 200 and 400 freestyle relays and placing 13th and 16th, respectively, in 50 and 100 freestyle. … Had state’s third-best sectional time in 50 free (23.57).

Ali Terrell, Franklin junior: Placed ninth in the state in 200 individual medley and 14th in 100 breaststroke while also coming up big for Grizzly Cubs on two top-four relays (medley and 200 freestyle). … Broke own school record in 200 IM (2:03.97).

Honorable mention

Lexy Burge, Indian Creek; Jillian Castor, Center Grove; Addison Daily, Whiteland; Grace Fisher, Whiteland; Faith Jackson, Greenwood; Anna McCahill, Franklin; Lori McCormick, Indian Creek; Bella Ratzlaff, Indian Creek; Lexi Wilhoit, Indian Creek

By the numbers

With a year to go, Carla Gildersleeve is already the most decorated girls swimmer in Franklin history, having won nine state medals:


100 butterfly;2nd

200 freestyle;4th

200 freestyle relay;4th

400 freestyle relay;8th


100 butterfly;3rd

200 freestyle;5th

400 freestyle relay;8th


200 freestyle;6th

500 freestyle;7th

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Ryan O'Leary is sports editor for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at or 317-736-2715.