The District 155 co-op boys' swimming team is looking for an encore performance this year.
District 155, which features swimmers from Cary-Grove, Crystal Lake South, Crystal Lake Central and Cary-Grove, won the Fox Valley Conference invitational title last year and returns nearly all its key swimmers from last year's powerhouse.
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Senior Michael Hamann (IM, backstroke) is a three-time state qualifier, while senior Tyler King was a member of the state 400 relay team. He'll swim the fly and 50 this year. Senior Adam Gaynor (200, 100) earned the most improved sectional performance honor and also was a member of the state 400 relay team. Senior Andrew Brierton (50 and 100) was a member of that relay as well.
Coach Rick Schaefer noted King stepped it up with off-season training and has come back with better stroke mechanics, while Gaynor already is swimming faster than last year. He added Adam Eibel stepped to the forefront when opportunities presented themselves last year, enjoyed major time drops toward the end of last season and has started off as fast as he was at the end of last season.
District 155 has 16 freshmen on the team, including four who will make an immediate impact. That list includes Cooper Langanis (200, 500), Corey Sheehan (50, 100, breaststroke), Scott Eibel (backstroke, 100) and Chase Castro (100, 200, fly). Sophomore Mitch Robak grew 5 inches since last season and was lauded by coach Rich Schaefer for his stroke mechanics and work ethic. He'll work the backstroke, breaststroke and IM.
"Cooper has stamina like few I have seen," said Schaefer. "With improved turns and some adjustments to his stroke, he is going to be really special. Chase and Mitch have experienced some huge growth spurts and are starting to put it all together."
With talented swimmers and a deep roster, Schaefer said expectations are high.
"I expect this team to be the best in (program) history," he said. "We were third at sectionals last year and we give away diving points. We want to win sectionals. That is the expectation. In order to do that we will need many kids to step up and make state-qualifying times. At practice, you can see the team wants it."
District 155 won its division at the Stevenson invitational last weekend.
"We can go four deep in just about every event this season and it showed at Stevenson," said Schaefer. "We're starting the year at a really high level. At the Stevenson meet, we started where we left off last season. It's is looking like this will be a special season."
District 300 co-op: The District 300 co-op team finished second at the FVC invitational last year, winning 9 of 11 events. However, coach Rick Andresen's team suffered significant graduation losses.
"We are kind of rebuilding," he said. "We lost three state qualifiers to graduation. We have a lot of young kids. We have 31 on the team and 22 are sophomores and freshmen. We only have four seniors."
Hampshire state qualifier Josh Dedina is back. He swam IM and breaststroke last year. Fellow state qualifier Alex Reinbrecht (Jacobs) also returns. He did the 200 and 500 a year ago.
Andresen is excited about the prospects of freshmen Frances Ogaban (backstroke, IM; Hampshire), Nick Le (breaststroke, IM, freestyle; Jacobs) and Cole Guenther (distance freestyle).
"We'll see how the young ones develop," said Andresen. "The talent is there."
Elgin: The Elgin boys' swimming program returns after a hiatus. New coach Dave Borg has 30 swimmers in the program.
Junior Jakob Marciniec (breaststroke), sophomore Chad Billings (breaststroke) and freshman Pablo Chavez (50, 100) bring experience to the team.
"We're a work in progress. The nice thing is we can concentrate on learning and improving," said Borg. "There is no pressure. They are all super kids and gutsy as well. This is what athletics is all about."
Huntley: Huntley took third in the FVC invitational last year (second at the JV level).
The Red Raiders return senior Matthew Haage (50, 100), who was a top-6 finisher in the 50 at sectionals last year. Sophomore Ryan Czarnecki (200 and 500) was named newcomers of the year at the FVC invitational last season.
"Both Ryan and Matt are highly motivated to do well this season," said Huntley coach Rachael Schwingen. "They have put in countless hours of practice since the end of last season. Ryan is swimming extremely fast during the first few practices. His base time in the 500 at tryouts was not far off his top times last season. Matt appears to be entering the season with increased strength from last season, which will help him in the sprint events."
Schwingen is impressed with the work ethic of this year's group.
"We have a large number of returning swimmers at the varsity level who have put in time with club teams outside the season to improve the overall depth of the team," she said.