Plunging back into the pool after a positive season last year, boys swimming looks to continue these steady strokes of success with seven returning state qualifiers. Head Coach Scott Walker hopes to help build a strong team foundation, as well.
“I think we have a really good base in leadership this year,” Walker said. “They really are a very classy group of guys.”
During practices and meets, Walker said he tries to keep a constructive atmosphere, especially important considering the demanding morning and afterschool practice schedule.
“I try to stay as positive as possible,” he said. “I am a firm believer [in the idea that] you have to have fun in order to perform well. I always tell the guys that the swimming pool is their sanctuary. It is a place that they can go to where nobody can mess with them.”
Being the LT boy’s swim coach for 21 years, Walker has gained reverence among the swimmers he coaches. This includes returning state competitors Ben Hewett ‘15 and Weston Credit ‘16.
“Coach Walker is definitely a valuable mentor,” Credit said. “He has been around the sport his entire life and knows exactly what each of his swimmers are going through
Along with high opinions of their coach, the swimmers are more than expectant of the coming season as a whole. Competing for various clubs during off-season, they congregated for a pre-season meeting early November then hit the pool and weight room on the 24th for the season’s first practice.
“What counts most is individual improvements, and I think if we can get that accomplished and work as a team in that regard, state and sectionals will come,” Hewett said.
Having lost 17 state-qualifying seniors last year, the team will look to the program’s underclassmen to help fill in gaps.
“What I’m excited about is building upon the kids that went [to state] last year, along with the younger kids that are coming in with the Freshman group,” Walker said. “I think we’re going to be packing a lot of punch in about two years. So I’m really excited not only coaching for just this season, but coaching to build upon the season that comes after that.”
With empty lanes to fill, the intensity of this season has already begun in the few weeks of official training the team has accomplished. The program as a whole has gained popularity and respect over the past years, trending towards another hard-working season to come.
“Just recently kids have started to come in more prepared,” Walker said. “When I came in, swimming wasn’t really respected in the school. I think that they have developed with their behavior, and their representation in the school and community has helped us become something to talk about.”
The boys’ next home meet is Dec. 5 against Glenbrook North High School, and with a clean slate, state returnees alongside underclassmen are ready to lead the team with fervor.
“We have strong and talented group of freshman coming in this year,” Credit said. “I hope our team’s leadership and good work ethic will lead us [to state].”