Waubonsie's Schwers has learned how to push himself
Waubonsie Valley's Michael Schwers finished sixth in the 100-yard butterfly and 11th in the 200 freestyle at last year's state meet and also swam on two free relays to lead the Warriors to a ninth-place finish at state.
According to Waubonsie coach Nick Arens, the key to Schwers' success is his incredible work ethic in practice. That attitude toward the sport is rubbing off on his teammates as a trio of Warriors sophomores -- Eric Weng, Jared Simpson and Ethan Morse -- are making great strides this season
"They're learning to follow Schwers' example and make the commitment," Arens said. "They're learning what it takes. This year they are training like Michael. He knows how to push himself and the others are seizing the opportunity to do that this year."
At the recent Aquapentathlon that Waubonsie hosted and won, Weng finished third in individual scoring, Schwers was fourth, while Simpson, senior Kai Motoyama and Morse all finished in the top 24.
Weng has been steady all year, so finishing near the top of the heap isn't a surprise.
"He's developed maturity as a swimmer," Arens said. "He's come to understanding what he has to do to compete at the highest level."
Arens said Weng is ahead of where he was at this time last year.
"For Eric there's a change in his confidence level," Arens said. "He's willing to push himself through being sore. He's really making progress."
A happening Huskie:
Naperville North's I.I. Qiao made a great showing against top-flight competition at last weekend's Evanston Invite, where the Huskies finished seventh among the 18 teams.
He came in third in the 100 butterfly and sixth in the 200 IM and is looking forward to making an impact in the postseason.
"He is No. 1 in all of our individual events," said Naperville North coach Andy McWhirter. "He's very versatile. He's really putting it all together. He has no weak stroke in the IM. And as a sophomore he's taking on much more of a leadership role."
Qiao qualified for state but fell short of scoring in the butterfly. But he's a little bigger and stronger and much more motivated this time around.
"He's looking toward state," McWhirter said. "He wants to swim on Saturday. But he also has his eye on our school's frosh-soph record in the fly. He wants to get his name on the record board. He made the commitment in the last off-season and it really shows."
According to McWhirter, Qiao's greatest strength is under water.
"He's got a great underwater kick," the coach said. "He goes halfway down the pool under water, and that sets him apart from many other swimmers. I think he can score in the fly and he needs a little more work to be a potential scorer in the IM. But he's also strong in the breaststroke and several freestyle events. In sectionals he'll swim two individual events and he gives us a chance to qualify in two relays."
The Huskies feel they have a good chance to qualify their 200 medley relay team and that Qiao and three of his teammates from a group that includes Josh Tak, Brandon Chan, Nick Zillier, Jeff Leu and Charlie Calvo have an outside chance to score in that event.
Beware the Wildcats:
Neuqua Valley continues to exceed expectations this season.
The Wildcats finished second in the power-packed Evanston Invite last weekend, just a few points ahead of champion New Trier.
Neuqua won both free relays and Joey Dalesandro took the gold in the 50 freestyle.
"Our team has come a long way this year," said Neuqua Valley coach Chad Allen. "We have a lot of guys who can help us out at the state meet."
The Wildcats finished eighth at state and they're looking to at least break into the top 10 again this year.
At Evanston the 200 free relay team consisted of Dalesandro, Matt Ciezczak, Kyri Chen and Michael Peters, while Dalesandro and Ciezczak were joined by John Ruan and Kevin Wu to win the 400 freestyle relay.
Ruan, Chen and Wu, who are all close to state-qualifying times in individual events as well, are members of the Wildcats' strong sophomore class.
"They're only sophomores but they were successful age group swimmers," Allen said. "They've been good for a long time and they've been together as a group. So they contribute to our strength in the relays."
The format at Evanston played into the Wildcats' superior depth as everyone's production counted in the final score.
"We have no weak spots," Allen said. "Ciezczak, who came on strong at the end of last year, has been putting up some of his best times in recent weeks."
Seniors Dalesandro, Ciezczak and Peters have been inspirational team leaders this year.
"As seniors they're pushing each other and getting the others guys to work hard," Allen said.