Boys swim & dive sweeps Loyola at season opener

Reflecting upon their first victory against Loyola and looking ahead into the busy schedule boys swim & dive faces this winter, senior varsity swimmer and co-captain Aaron Martin believes that the team’s strengths lie in its collective success. 

“We normally rely a bit more on our depth. [Loyola has] a lot of really top end talent. But our team’s definitely bigger, and that definitely helps.”

At the first meet of the winter on Dec. 3, ETHS took home a resounding win against Loyola with a 107-73 score in Varsity, 119-51 in JV, and 108-60 in JV2. At the varsity level, sophomore Lucas Macy secured a win in the 500-yard freestyle, as did senior Aaron Martin in the 100-yard and 200-yard events of the same stroke. Senior co-captain Caden Hardy placed first in the 100-yard breaststroke, fellow co-captain Milo Balzer as well in the 100-yard fly and an astonishing showing from diver Aryeh Lesch rounded out the team’s performance. 

Though the team is still developing, returning athletes and a promising group of freshmen are ready to take on the first full season since the beginning of the pandemic.

“Last year, we had about a six-week season, and we ended with Conference. We didn’t have a Sectional, we didn’t have a State meet. So that was disappointing,” says head coach Kevin Auger. “We’re still under the unusual circumstance of COVID, masking and special restrictions, but other than that, we’re going to try and make it as normal as possible.”

Part of Coach Auger’s passion comes in the form of the team’s returning state qualifiers, many of whom are seniors, ready for a powerful end to their high school athletic careers. As one of these athletes, Martin expresses his excitement at the prospect of again competing at this high-level competition.

“Illinois State specifically is kind of known as one of the coolest meets in the country,” says Martin. “It’s definitely really, really different from any swim meet you’ve ever been at before, so I think the experience of going is pretty valuable. And then this year, it’s a different pool. It will be a little different, but I think there’s actually more seats there. It’ll be fun. It’s definitely loud.”

State swim meets, previously hosted by either ETHS or New Trier, will this year be held in the newly constructed FMC Natatorium at Ty Warner Park in Westmont, Il. The change in destination offers an appropriate fresh start to the competition, allowing swimmers to shake off the broken stride that the pandemic created. It also provides new challenges for swimmers who have grown accustomed to a venue more close to home.

After their season-opening meet with Loyola, varsity swimmers faced off in a dual against Highland Park, a 103-83 triumph, and the Glenbrook North sprint classic, where they placed first out of eight teams. An ETHS-hosted match with Vernon Hills will bring them to winter break. 

Part of what makes the high school season special to swimmers who participate with clubs in the offseason is the amount of meets—one a week, sometimes more. This challenge and dedication to improvement creates a tight-knit team atmosphere, and it clearly pays off for the Wildkits.

Martin’s advice for new swimmers? “If you start, and if you come to practices every day, you will get better,” he says. “Really, it’s just about putting in really consistent, really conscientious work. Anybody, even if you started freshman year, can finish state champion.”