As one would guess, given her back-to-back state titles in the event, breaststroke is Corinne Rinne’s best and favorite stroke.

But it wasn’t her first one outside of the freestyle.

“I was a backstroker, and I would do breaststroke when I was tired, because you could breathe every stroke,” the Blue Springs senior said. “It wasn’t good and it wasn’t fast, so my (club) coach made me change.

“My backstroke got progressively worst. I could fake my way through it for 50 (yards, during individual medleys), just stay close to everyone else and catch up with the breaststroke.”

Girls didn’t catch up with Rinne in the 100-yard breaststroke, at least not at the last two state swimming and diving meets. After repeating her state championship in that event and helping Blue Springs to an eighth-place team finish at state, Rinne is The Examiner’s 2014 Girls Swimmer of the Year.

“Corinne’s a tough racer, one of the best racers we’ve had,” veteran Blue Springs coach Bill Shalley. “Extremely competitive. Her technique was not there all year. We got things back to neutral, and her stroke got a lot better. We were still working on 20 minutes before state.

“She’s just a tenacious racer, and she just outraced the other girls. Put her at the right meet, in the right situation, and she’ll go.”

The second title was more nerve-wracking than the first, Rinne said, if only because at the beginning of the season she knew everyone had their eyes on her at meets or her times when looking up results. Then, at state, she had the natural target on her back.

As a junior she clocked 1 minute, 5.25 seconds to win the 100 back, 81-hundredths better than the second-place finisher. This year her winning time was 1:05.73, with second place checking in .38 behind. As a freshman and sophomore she had placed 10th and fourth, respectively, in that event.

“A little over halfway through the race I was third, so the next 25 yards were crucial to catch up,” she said of the state finals race last month at the St. Peters Rec-Plex. “It was kind of scary, but then so exciting. I don’t know how much I cried.”

Rinne also finished 10th at state in the 200 IM in 2:11.51 after taking 12th last year. She also helped the Blue Springs 200 medley relay team place fifth and the 200 free relay 14th at state.

“I wish we had done better in the conference (the Wildcats finished fourth), but we didn’t have the numbers for it,” she said. “Coming back and placing eighth at state with just five people, it was really exciting to see what we could do.”

To try avoiding losing any ground on her pool competition, Rinne decided not to compete in cross country, where she had been one of the Wildcats’ top runners and a state qualifier. The extra time spent swimming would offset the cross-training benefits, she reasoned.

“Usually the past three years had been all running for three months, and then the first day back in the water is the first day of the season,” she said. “I knew if I wanted to come back and compete with the best girls in the state, I knew I would need more training.”

Rinne went back to running when track practices started – “That was pretty rough. I felt it the first few days,” she said – and she allowed herself to eat foods with gluten again after swearing those off for several months.

“I started that in September or October, and I felt better after going off it and decided to go through swim season,” she said. “I never realized how many things have gluten – even Twizzlers. That was so hard to do.

“The Sunday after state my parents had a gluten-stuffed day. I think the healthiest thing I ate was salsa. I had Oreos, stuffed-crust pizza twice in 24 hours – it probably wasn’t the smartest thing,” she acknowledged with a laugh.

Rinne plans to swim and possibly major in nursing no matter where she goes to college. Right now, Missouri State is her top choice, but she also is considering Drury and West Virginia, she said.

“I’m narrowing my options,” she said. “All those schools have good nursing programs, so that helps.”

Shalley believes Rinne can achieve college accolades, as well.

“If she would’ve had three more weeks, she would’ve gotten even faster,” Shalley said. “If comes in (at college) like she had the last three weeks, she’ll make cuts.

“One of my favorite kids, but all those kids are going to go down as favorites. I had to keep a stoic face with these seniors. Good group, and Corinne was a huge part of it.”