CROWN POINT | Crown Point’s Racheal Bukowski used to love to play hoops.
She still does, sort of, but swimming won out as the favorite for the talented senior a few years ago.
Bukowski finished seventh in the state in the 50 free this past season. She recently signed to swim for Michigan State University, which she said has a perfect mix of academics and athletics.
She comes from a sports family. Her dad, Bob, played football, basketball, baseball and golf at Gavit, while her mom, Vicki, played volleyball and basketball and ran track at Hammond. Her brother, Thayne plays football, basketball and baseball for C.P.
The Bukowskis have a basketball court in the backyard, and Racheal still shoots around for fun in the summer. She started playing basketball at age 5.
“It was really hard (to give up basketball),” she said. “I gave it up, and it all worked out in the end. I probably wouldn’t have gotten a scholarship in basketball. I chose the right sport.”
She said the academics MSU offered “were off the charts,” and she wants to study sports broadcasting.
A late bloomer for swimming, Bukowski didn’t take up the sport until the fifth grade.
“I didn’t really know what was going on, and all the other kids did,” she said. “It was an experience.”
Once she had exemplary times in state age group swimming in the seventh grade, Bukowski embraced the sport. She concentrated on swimming solely in high school.
C.P. coach Bryon Angerman said Bukowski has come a long way.
“From barely making it to state to making it to state swim in the top 16 and then the top eight,” he said. “She’s progressed every year.”
Bukowski teamed with Aly Tetzloff, Mackenzie Artim and Holly Schuster to finish second in the state in the 400 free relay.
“It was so cool,” she said. “If you get second place to Carmel, it’s like winning a state championship. In our minds we won the state championship. It was fun.”
She also swam on the fifth place 200 free relay and sixth place 200 medley relay, as C.P. finished sixth in the state meet.
Bukowski has been a big part of the early season success for the Times' No. 1-ranked Bulldogs (4-0), who already own wins over Chesterton and Munster. She loves the camaraderie of competing with her best friends.
“To me the team aspect of swimming is more fun than the individual aspect,” Bukowski said. “I love winning my events, but it’s much more fun to win as a team.”
While at school, Bukowski still has hoop dreams and knows what to do with a wadded up piece of paper.
“Every time I see a garbage can, and I don’t care how far away it is, I always shoot into the garbage can,” she laughed. “It brings back the memories.”