Will Shanel, a four-time boys swimming state meet state qualifier for St. Charles East, comes from long line of swimming success.
His father, Bill, was a key member of the high school teams that helped put St. Charles High School on the swimming map in the late 1970s.
More recently, Will's older sister Ashley has excelled for the Saints.
And already, Will is helping extend the sport's generational reach by teaching it to youngsters in his own community.
"The kids love him," said St. Charles East coach Joe Cabel. "He's a real sweetheart with them."
Well, kids, pay close attention. Because Will Shanel is conducting a demonstration in swimming success at Evanston Township High School this weekend.
He'll be competing in the championship finals of both the 200-yard IM and 500 freestyle in Saturday's session of the state meet.
Shanel had the fifth-fastest qualifying time in the IM (1:52.77) and the sixth-fastest effort in the 500 free (4:34.79). Making the championship heats was especially sweet for him, especially after qualifying seventh last year in the IM.
One key -- pay attention again now, kids -- was learning to relax.
"I think for me, in the past, I've fallen into a little bit of a trap where I'm too concerned with my times, where I might place, how other people are swimming, all that kind of stuff," Shanel said. "I think I did a better job this time of just relaxing -- staying focused, but putting all my energy into my race, and letting the rest of it go."
And now, Shanel is taking that relaxed yet focused approach into his final day as a high school swimmer.
"The one thing I've always said is when it comes down to your senior year, it's no regrets," he said. "Whatever happens tomorrow -- I swim great, or if I don't swim great -- it'll be my best, and that will be enough."
The Saints' 200 medley relay of sophomore John Tarpey, junior Ethan Sellers, Shanel and senior Tyler Vangyseghem finished 27th in 1:38.49. In the 400 free relay, Shanel, senior Nick Wellman, freshman Nick Boryk and Tarpey were 17th in 3:13.28.
Marmion Academy wrapped up its prelim session on a big positive, as the Cadets' 400 free relay of Andrew Kasper, Jack Fergus, Dan Creighton and Mike Burke grabbed the last spot in the championship finals, finishing in 3:08.68.
That was a relief for coach Bill Schalz, who viewed it as a great big-picture day after a session that included a few small errors.
"We don't have that one guy on our team that's really going to make a difference all by himself," said Schalz. "So we have to pull together to get things done. Everybody's got to do their job."
The same Marmion foursome qualified eighth in the 200 medley relay in 1:35.56, and Fergus, a senior, got a spot in the 100 backstroke consolation finals after finishing 11th (51.72).
"We have some things we can tighten up for finals," Schalz said. "In the 400 relay just now, we're in there with New Trier and Evanston -- I'm not sure our guys really felt they're on even footing with that caliber of team. But I sure do. We'll try to show that tomorrow."
Clearly among the state's elite in Illinois Math and Science Academy senior Steven Tan. He's the top qualifier in the 100 fly (48.41) and the second-fastest qualifier in the 100 backstroke (49.46).
St. Charles North had a solid enough day, hitting a high note when the 200 free relay of seniors Collin Bawolek and Ross Davis and sophomores Stephan Hutchison and Joe Myhre finished 10th in 1:26.40.
But the 400 free relay was disqualified on an early exchange, depriving the North Stars of another chance to score points. Their time would have also put that group in the consolation heat Saturday.
Stars coach Rob Rooney prefers to measure this season as one where great strides were made. After all, not a single one of the North Stars on deck at Evanston on Friday competed in last year's state meet.
"When your boys 400 free relay is slower than your girls 400 free relay," said Rooney, who also coaches the St. Charles North girls program, "you know you've got your work cut out for you. I'm proud of what these guys have been able to accomplish."
Myhre had the top individual finish for the Stars, taking 16th place in the 100 free in 47.55.
Hinsdale Central, Libertyville and Metea Valley delivered strong individual and relay performances and will battle it out for team honors Saturday in the finals, which begin at 1 p.m.
No state records were broken on Friday, but Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin senior Ryan Held impressed with the top qualifying efforts in both the 50 free (19.89) and 100 free (44.09).
Normal University junior Jake Miller is the top qualifier in 200 IM (1:49.98) and the No. 2 qualifier in the 500 free.
Libertyville's Alex Snarski is the top qualifier in the 100 backstroke (48.67) and the No. 4 qualifier in the 100 fly (49.44).