As young as they are -- and there's no denying that Rosary's girls swim team is youthful this fall -- there's also no doubting that the Beads have some talent in the water.
Rosary finished fourth in its own Rosary Invitational on Saturday, but deeper than the team placing was the race-by-race dynamic exhibited by the Beads' swimmers.
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"We had some pretty disappointing swims in places today," Rosary coach Bill Schalz said. "But we had a couple of swimmers who had good swims and bad swims. If you pick any of my senior classes from the last four years or so, they had gone through the learning of how to get up and race. We're learning that."
Schalz said the learning process is important and that the team will just have to work through whatever struggles take place along the way.
"You can't get mad at them," Schalz said. "It's a different thing. The freshmen are learning how to swim tired and they'll get there by the end of the year."
The Beads had two individual race titlists. Erin Hart won the 100 freestyle and Annie Gosselin won the 100 backstroke.
"Erin and Kate (Canfield) are our top two returners coming back," Schalz said. "She (Erin) can do so many things for us being a freestyler. She can help in so many ways. It's important for us that she's a leader on the team, and she does that."
Gosselin is one of the emerging names for the Beads.
"You're going to have to work awfully hard to beat her because she is going to work awfully hard to beat you," Schalz said. "That's the way she is in practice. She is one of the most competitive kids I've ever coached. She does not have the prettiest stroke and she is not the tallest girl in the race and she is not going to be the strongest girl in the race. But she is going to be hardest-working kid in the race."
Rosary's Invitational, coming toward the end of September, comes on the leading edge of "Invitational Season" -- the stretch in October that is punctuated by one solid weekend invitational after another. That string of invitationals dovetails with some of the hardest weeks of training. By the time November arrives, swimmers move to the conference, sectional, state sequence and start their tapered resting process. All that seems a long way away at this point, however.
"This is the kickoff for a stretch of meets for us," Schalz said. "We swam our invite and the teams that beat us could be Top 10 in the state. We still have to swim Fenwick, which could be in the Top 2 in the state. Then we go to Sandburg's invitational and see a lot of strong swimmers from down there. Then we go to Naperville's invite and see more of the same of what we saw today. We have Loyola coming up still. We are going to see top teams all the way."
Naperville North finished second in this meet in 2009 and 2010 but never won a meet that not only features the powerhouse hosts but also schools the Huskies see often during the season -- rivals Naperville Central and Neuqua Valley.
Saturday proved to be the day the Naperville North got their hands on the trophy thanks to a 359-319 victory over second-placed Naperville Central in the five-team meet, which also included Rockford Boylan.