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Best in state push Prepper swimmers
Best in state push Prepper swimmers
By TONY LANGE
University School may have won back-to-back-to-back Division II state swimming titles, but the Preppers have their work cut out for them if they want a fourth.
After finishing 15-0 last season, the Preppers tasted something new last week -- defeat. But that came against the top three teams in Ohio.
University School traveled to Cincinnati to take on St. Xavier, St. Francis De Sales and Upper Arlington in a triple-dual meet. Those three teams placed first, second and third in the Division I state swim meet last season.
After traveling more than four hours on a school van, the Preppers looked a little flat in the triple-dual, head coach Brian Perry said.
"That's a pretty tall order for us," he said of the Division I competition. St. Xavier has more than 100 boys on its roster. "We looked a little tired and lost all three meets. So that was a new experience for us. Our boys aren't used to losing," Perry said.
The following day, University School continued its holiday trip farther west to Bloomington, Ind., where the Preppers had two swim practices and a weightlifting session at Indiana University.
The next day, last Friday, the Preppers swam a dual against Bloomington South High School, Indiana's Division I state runner-up team. University School came out on top, 92-84, in a back-and-forth meet.
What makes this year's University School swimmers different is that they are an improving team, Perry said. Last year, the Preppers knew what they would be getting from day one, he said.
The Preppers had five seniors who were double-podium finishers at the state meet last year, meaning each of them qualified and placed in the top eight in both of their individual events.
University School did qualify eight other swimmers to the state competition last season.
Top returners to this year's swim team include seniors Kevin Stang, Russell Stack and Nicholas Crane, who also competed in two individual events each at the state swim meet a year ago.
Competing against teams from Cincinnati, Toledo, Columbus and Indiana is always fun, Stang said of the Preppers' annual trip.
"I like going out and racing against these other teams," said Stang, who finished third in the 100-yard backstroke and sixth in the 200 individual medley at the Division II state meet last season. "It's definitely a different feel from racing the guys in Northeast Ohio. We're pretty happy with our times, especially during this tough time of the season."
During the winter break, the Preppers do three-a-day training, which involves two hours of swimming following by a 90-minute weightlifting session in the mornings and another swimming session in the afternoon.
All the yardage and hard work is paying off already, said Stack, who placed ninth in both his 100 freestyle and 100 butterfly races at the state meet last year. He already swam a faster time during this regular season in the 100 free, 47.32 seconds, than he did at the state consolation finals, 47.42 seconds.
"It's very exciting," Stack said. "To go over the entire summer and then come back and be not only the same speed but faster, it's very exciting to do that and to be looking forward to the state meet to hopefully be even faster."
Instead of the 100 fly, however, Stack plans to compete in the 50 free this postseason, he said.
He already swam a 21.28 in the 50 free at Cleveland State University during the Viking Meet on Dec. 17. That time ranks him first in the Northeast District and would have placed him fifth at the state meet last season.
"The 50 free is much different than the 100, because in the 100 you can make minor mistakes, but in the 50, everything has to be perfect," Stack said of the fastest race in swimming. "You can't mess up on the push-off or your start or turn or finish, and you can't breathe even one extra time. You're just always trying to move your arms a little bit faster."
Stack is not the only Prepper who has bettered his state time from last season.
Stang clocked a 51.32 in his 100 back and a 1:55.04 in the 200 IM this season, both of which are faster times than his state races from a year ago. He is ranked first in the Northeast District in both of those events thus far this season.
"I'm extremely excited with how I've been swimming," Stang said. "I had a really great summer." He practiced with the Lake Erie Silver Dolphins team "and got some great training in and had a great base to carry over," he said.
During the summer, Stang qualified for the Olympic Trials in his 200-meter backstroke.
"He's always been very good, but now he's at an elite level," Perry said. "You know, very few kids can make the Olympic Trials, and he did that. Him and Russell, they're both training at the highest level that I've ever seen them train at -- in the pool and the weight room."
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