Swim teams compete in the state meet after record-breaking season

The 400 yard freestyle and 200 yard medley relay team stand with coaches Sandy Sliwowski and Mitch Fries after
competing in their state meet events Feb. 26 at the Canton Hall of Fame Aquatic Center.
(Courtesy of Megan LaFollette).

The swim teams competed in the state meet Feb. 24-26 at the Canton Hall of Fame Aquatic Center with the girls and boys finishing 16th and 29th, respectively.

Six swimmers qualified for the state meet and each of them broke at least one school record at districts. At states, four additional school records were broken.

Freshman Millie Evans had the best finish at states, earning a time of 54.64 seconds and second place in the 100 yard butterfly event. Evans originally broke the school record for this event at districts, but she beat her time by .34 seconds at states. She also broke the school record in the 200 yard individual medley, finishing in ninth place with a time of 2:07.31.

Junior Nicholas Minkin broke two school records at states, placing sixth in the 100 yard freestyle and seventh in the 100 yard backstroke. Similar to Evans, Minkin broke his previous 100 yard freestyle record from districts with a time of 46.74 seconds.

Sophomore Anja Hoy placed 11th in the 100 yard backstroke event, finishing in 59.57 seconds. Hoy broke the school record in this event at districts with a time of 58.63 seconds. Hoy also competed at the state tournament in the 200 yard medley relay and the 400 yard freestyle relay along with Evans, freshman Owynn LaFollette and sophomore Annabel Long. At districts, the 400 yard freestyle relay team broke the school record in 3:38.31 and Evans broke an individual school record in this event with a time of 25.84 seconds.

Senior Eli Dresbach qualified for the state meet in the 200 yard individual medley event in 2:03.85, more than a minute slower than his district school record breaking time of 1:00.13. He also competed in the 100 yard backstroke event at districts, breaking the school record with a time of 56.69 seconds.

Dresbach said he was very happy with the results at districts, and he was hoping to see more records broken at states, especially from the talented younger swimmers. Although he had anticipated having a better finish at states, he was pleased with the results of the district meet.

“I think the records we broke tell the whole story,” Dresbach said. “We left the impression at districts that we are here to stay, especially as a young team.”

Dresbach said that the team’s chemistry has greatly contributed to their success. Because many of the swimmers have competed together for several years, he said that they have formed a very strong bond with supportive and motivating attitudes that bring the team together.

“Everyone has put in a lot of effort this season, and we all want to work hard for each other because we have been swimming together for so long,” Dresbach said.

Sophomore Annabel Long said she believes that they were successful this season because of the talent on the team. She attributes their strength to many of the swimmers training year-round with their club teams where they are able to continuously improve and encourage their teammates.

“The whole season, there has been a really positive team atmosphere,” she said. “Everyone always supports each other and watches each other’s races.”

Long said that this season has set a precedent for future swimmers because she has realized their capabilities as a team and hopes that the team can continue working to build their endurance.

“I think if we continue to work hard, we can set more records and have even more swimmers qualify for big meets in the coming years,” she said.

Coach Saundra Sliwowski said that because many of the athletes set preseason goals and work toward them all season, they are able to succeed like they have this year.

“It was very exciting to see all the athletes’ goals coming to a head and watching their success,” she said.

As a freshman, LaFollete said she was very excited to have been able to break as many school records as she did and to make it to states, but there is so much more to the swim program beyond just their success.

“I think this season is more successful not just because of records or times, but because I’m with my friends and I get to share this experience with them,” LaFollete said. “It means the world to me that I am able to share this experience with these people, and it is something I will never forget.”

Sliwowski achieved another accomplishment for the team when she won the award for girls Central District coach of the year. Dresbach said Sliwowski was deserving of this award because of all of the time she puts into their practices and competitions.

“Honestly I was shocked,” Sliwowski said. “I will give the athletes all the credit for me receiving the award. The swimmers had a great meet and I’m sure that stood out to a lot of coaches.”

LaFollete said that Sliwowski has had a big impact on the team because she cares a lot about the program and seeing the swimmers succeed.

“When you have a coach like her, it makes swimming a little easier because you know that she will also cheer you on,” she said.

LaFollete said the positivity on the team is something that inspires her, and she hopes that the program will continue to flourish. She believes that because of the success this season, the team has changed the face of swimming at the high school this season.

“Always stay positive,” she said. “Find a good thing out of every day and find things you can fix about your races and practice them daily.”

Dresbach said that his most impactful advice to younger swimmers was told to him by his club coach, and that is to swim with confidence.

“We have put in a whole year of hard work for these meets, so we should make the most of them,” Dresbach said.