Swimmers, Take Your Mark!

Zach Keenan, Staff Writer

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After the Hawken Hawks cut the Preppers’ 17-year district championship streak last February, the US Swimming and Diving team is back with a vengeance. Hawken went on to win the Division II state title, and since, there have been no breaks in training for our boys. The swim team maintains what may be the best work ethic out of any team at US. No other team is in the weight room 3-4 mornings per week, has 3-hour practices during winter break, and swims on holidays. Pencil-shaped swimmers often eat like linemen due to the demanding cardio and strength training.

Captains Ben Firstenberg, Zach Halawa, and Matt Strachan lead the sprinter-heavy senior class. As each athlete is able to post district-qualifying times in the 50 Free, there is no doubt that the 4×50 Free Relay will fair very well at states. Until then, the team builds on a foundation of younger swimmers that focus on stroke and distance. Ethan Banks, a heavy hitter in distance, spent his summer posting times nearing USA Junior National standards. Caleb Peters and Cal Ritzman look to compete for the breaststroke position in the 200 Medley Relay, and Peters will build on his performance in the 200 Individual Medley and 100 Breaststroke. The addition of Owen Hanna, a Junior National backstroker, will surely bolster the team’s 200 Medley Relay time. Alongside the relay, Hanna has already proven himself during his time at NDCL. Last year as a sophomore, he won the district in the 100 Backstroke and placed 7th at the state meet. Now under the guidance of quick-witted Coach Perry, Hanna is hungry for faster times.

The standbys in this program have been an incredible coaching staff, led by US grad and NCAA Division 1 swimmer Coach Brian Perry. With assistant coaches Ms. Gaul and Mr. Schaner, the varsity is set up for success. Yet, it all starts with a strong foundation, with Mr. Ketcham coaching the junior varsity squad. Last season, the team qualified school-record 11 swimmers for the state meet and expects to raise that bar this year.

Though the senior class may be filled to the brim with freestyle speedsters, the depth provided by underclassmen will fill in gaps left by the Class of 2017. Overall, the Preppers have one ultimate goal, a state championship. After arduous summer and autumn seasons, this goal seems all the more tangible. The biggest competition for the swim team this year will be the Hawks of Hawken, and what this Preppers squad may lack in certain strokes, they make up for through a work ethic that is unmatched among Northeast Ohio schools. With this tenet, Coach Perry looks to lead the team to yet another district championship, as well as a successful run at the crown.

With practices starting this past Friday, November 3rd, the regular season will start off the blocks against longtime rival Orange on November 28th at the Lions’ pool.

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