Postseason push in the pool

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Postseason push in the pool

Jotham Israel, Sports Editor

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The H-F varsity boys swimming team has had a successful season that has been under the radar.

The team consists of eight seniors, which is over half of the 14-man roster. They brought back a lot of experience from last year’s team, but there are also some younger players on the roster that includes two freshmen and two sophomores.

First-year Head Coach John Fitzgerald is grateful for the seniors on the team being able to step up as leaders.

“They’ve been a huge help to the younger guys. I feel like we have a lot of seniors and some freshmen and sophomores. There’s not a lot of juniors on our team,” Fitzgerald said. “They’ve stepped up and have been leaders to some of the younger guys. I couldn’t ask for a better group of seniors.”

Along with the coach, the players get along with each other, especially the seniors. David Winicky, one of the eight seniors on the team, cherishes the bond he has with his teammates.

“I’ve been with these guys for the past four years in the pool. We’ve spent countless hours together. The bond we’ve created as friends has been one of the best bonds I’ve had in my high school career,” Winicky said.

The players have bonded well as H-F teammates, but some of the players have known each other before they even went to H-F. Senior Jacob Wright takes pride in sharing his senior experience with his teammates.

“Most of these guys I’ve known my whole life. We’ve grown up together. Sharing this feeling with all of my brothers feels amazing,” Wright said. 

To go along with the team chemistry, the seniors have shown leadership throughout the season. One of the seniors, Tristan Kennon, explains his mentality of every race being a step forward when swimming week in and week out.

“My mentality was dropping my time each and every week. It was also like no race was a bad race. Yeah, you might mess up a flip turn or breathe a lot, but no race was a bad race,” Kennon said.

The individual mentality may be different for another player, but the team shares the same characteristic: No one goes down without a fight.

“We work every single meet. We don’t just lay down and let somebody beat us. We’re going to put up a fight, and I really appreciate that. That’s one of our best qualities. We really progressed. We are a better team than last year.” Wright said.

The Vikings haven’t finished in the top 10 as a team at state since 2003, but they are confident that they will snap the 17-year drought. Fitzgerald has a plan to get his team physically ready for the postseason.

“Right now we’re cranking up the intensity on our training and dropping down the rest times, but we’ll go a little easy on them right before sectionals. When they’re fully rested, I’m hoping we can get the best times possible come Sectional Saturday and get at least two guys to state,” Fitzgerald said.

The pool was renovated in 2018, the season before Fitzgerald took over as Head Coach. He appreciates the privilege of working in the newly-renovated facility.

“It’s the best part of the job. It’s a beautiful facility. I think it’s the best in the area, and I’m glad we get to show it off,” Fitzgerald said.

Next weekend, the Vikings will travel to Andrew for the SWSC conference championship in diving and to Lockport for the conference championship in swimming.

The team then gets two weeks off before Sectionals take place on Feb. 22 in H-F’s pool. State championships will be in Evanston.