Boys swim prepares for new season, athletes

Max Dike, Reporter

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For Bryson Breitenbucher ‘20, last year’s state boys swim meet was an experience like no other. The atmosphere was unlike any he had ever felt before, he said.

“There’s no energy compared to the state meet,” Breitenbucher said. “It gets you going.”

Breitenbucher competed in a slew of races on Feb. 22 at New Trier High School including the 100 meter freestyle, 200 meter freestyle relay and 200 meter medley relay, the latter of which Breitenbucher helped his group take first place.

But while the memories of last year’s state meet are still fresh in the athletes’ minds, coach Erin Rodriguez says that it’s time to move forward.

“We usually go in with [the] expectation just to swim the fastest that we can,” Rodriguez said.

“We kind of forget about whatever happened the year before because high school sports [are] all about rebuilding.”

Rodriguez is excited to see what new athletes can bring to the team this season. The varsity team will be full of new athletes, she said, especially juniors and seniors looking to work their way up, including Mitchell Johnson ’20, a transfer from Stagg High School.

“[We] just kind of [make] the most of what we have and have boys swim as fast as [they] can,” Rodriguez said.

Johnson, who started at LT this fall is looking forward to join a new program after swimming at both Stagg and at FMC Aquatic, a club team in Willowbrook, he said.

“I was very close to my old high school team, so leaving [it] was scary,” Johnson said. “But since I already knew a couple of swimmers on this team, they were very welcoming, which made it easier transitioning.”

Johnson swam with LT swimmers Jack Thorell ‘20, Henry Olenec ‘20 and Henry Siegelman ‘20 for FMC Aquatic and had been swimming there himself since age 12. He participated in the 400 meter medley relay at the state meet for Stagg last season and knows what it takes to get to that level of competition, he said. As seniors, Johnson and Breitenbucher will be some of the oldest athletes on the team and Breitenbucher is expecting new leaders to emerge, he said.

“We need good leaders with good experience, especially with losing most of our state swimmers from last year,” Breitenbucher said, “We only had five swimmers last year on the state team [and] we placed fifth….placing so high with so few swimmers is unheard of.”

The varsity team lost several of these leaders last year, Breitenbucher said. Will Duerr’ 19, Ben Lynch ‘19 and Michael Walsh ‘19 all graduated after helping the team reach the state meet, he said. But even in a rebuilding atmosphere, the boys thrive in an underdog mentality, Rodriguez said. Their opponents don’t know what the team is capable of, she said. It’s a role in which they bond over and have fun with.

“I know a lot of them are friends out of season,” Rodriguez said. “They’re either all swimming together, playing polo together and a lot of them work in the summer together, so it becomes like a little brotherhood between all of them.”

The first practice for the boys swim team took place Nov. 25 and the first meet is scheduled for Dec. 6 at Glenbrook North High School.