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updated: 8/19/2014 11:37 PM

Prospect puts its swimming heritage on the record

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  • Prospect's record-setting medley relay of, from left, Sam Gabriel, Nathanael Ginnodo, Michael Morikado and Carter Mau, has earned a spot on the Knights' new swimming and diving record board inside the Jean Walker Field House.

      Prospect's record-setting medley relay of, from left, Sam Gabriel, Nathanael Ginnodo, Michael Morikado and Carter Mau, has earned a spot on the Knights' new swimming and diving record board inside the Jean Walker Field House.
    Aaron Gabriel | Staff Photographer


For the record, yes, Prospect does have swim teams.

In fact, historically speaking the Knights have had one of the most consistently strong swimming and diving programs in the Mid-Suburban League.

Last year was an especially good one for Prospect, as both the boys and girls squads won MSL East titles under coach Alfonso Lopez.

And over the years, the school has produced some of the all-time greats in Illinois swimming, such as state champs Rick Fox, Barb Larson, Tom Cole and Julia Andracki.

In spite of all that success, Knights swimmers have always had something of an identity crisis.

While the big picture in District 214 has drastically improved thanks to the addition of facilities at Elk Grove and now Buffalo Grove, the aquatics focus is still far from ideal for schools such as Prospect, Hersey and Rolling Meadows.

Rolling Meadows and Elk Grove share the pool at Elk Grove.

Hersey uses Olympic Pool, an Arlington Heights Park District facility.

Prospect has long shared the facility at Wheeling High School with the Wildcats.

For the schools without their own pool, the main practical disadvantage is the extra commute time it takes for every meet or practice. Simply put, it takes more effort for the athletes at these schools to excel at swimming and diving.

Competitors on Prospect's teams have reported that their own schoolmates don't even know the water polo and swim teams exists, since all the practices and meets are held at another high school's pool.

But the battle for recognition definitely took a step in the right direction this summer.

With an assist from Prospect activities director Greg Minter, Prospect's top swimmers now have a very public place, right alongside the many great athletes the school has produced in other sports.

On the East wall of the Jean Walker Field House, the Prospect boys and girls swimming record-holders are now listed clearly, given equal billing alongside land sports such as track and field, football, and basketball.

Tuesday morning marked a special moment as the most recent record-breaking Prospect boys swimmers made a personal appearance at the field house.

Last year's 200-yard medley relay of Sam Gabriel, Nathanael Ginnodo, Michael Morikado and Carter Mau set the standard for the program by winning that race in 1:38.35 at the Mid-Suburban League meet.

Gabriel and Morikado are seniors this school year, and they are two reasons the Knights expect to have another solid team this winter.

Ginnodo and Mau are already Prospect grads, about to set off for Big Ten collegiate ventures -- Ginnodo at Michigan State, and Mau at Iowa. As the currents of life carry them to their next challenge, both were able to depart with the knowledge that their efforts are now publicly recorded for posterity, on site at their school.

Or at least until another foursome breaks their mark.

Lopez certainly knows how that feels, as he had a leg on a much earlier Prospect medley relay that was so recently displaced by Gabriel, Ginnodo, Morikado and Mau. The coach was present Tuesday to proudly take a look at the new record board, and he's also keeping an optimistic eye on the future of aquatics in District 214.

"There's no getting around it -- pools are important in our sport," Lopez said. "How many lanes and how much time you have available really dictates how specialized you can be with a group.

"We've had some success lately with programs like ours, along with Hersey, Wheeling and Rolling Meadows. That's due to some great coaching and kids, and consistency in those teams."

But, as Lopez also pointed out, no team from District 214 has been able to win the overall Mid-Suburban League title in boys or girls swimming in recent years. That's partly because all the District 211 schools and Barrington have their own pools, and it's also a function of how many feeder programs are available -- or aren't -- in the area.

"We get our high school athletes for three months out of the year," Lopez said. "What happens in those other nine months is just as important to their success."

It's safe to say all the high school swimming coaches east of Route 53 -- along with the many families immersed in the Chlorinated Arts -- would love to see District 214 continue to expand its swimming horizons. Lopez thinks a centrally located pool that could benefit the whole district makes sense, as it would help enrich the developmental levels of the sport for several schools.

Either way, Prospect has taken an important step -- make that stroke -- in the right direction by recognizing the accomplishments of its very best swimmers and divers.

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