If success leads to more success, the Riverside-Brookfield girls’ swim team is looking forward to a stellar campaign.
After sending its largest contingency to the ISHA State Meet in years, the Bulldogs are ready to aim for loftier goals this season, including more individual qualifiers, another Suburban Prairie Conference title and possibly a team sectional title.
“We just have a bunch of girls loaded with talent,” RB coach Todd Fridrych said. “We feel like we can be competitive with a lot of the stronger teams in the state. We’ve even redone our schedule to get to some stronger invites with stronger teams.
“Last year we were so improved, we went out and were running over teams. That didn’t let us get a feel for where we were at swimming wise compared to those better teams. This new schedule will give us that opportunity.”
The Bulldogs have already had a taste of the tougher schedule after last weekend’s tri-meet. While RB couldn’t get past powerhouse Homewood-Flossmoor, the Bulldogs did score an impressive win over Glenbrook South.
RB will also make trips to the York and Sandburg invitational meets, both of which are known for boasting strong fields.
“I think the program itself has made tremendous steps forward,” Fridrych said. “Our goals are extremely high and we’re trying to get to greater heights in the next
few years, and it all starts now.”
Leading the charge will be RB’s veterans. Sophomore Sara Martinek is back after qualifying for State in the 100- and 200-yard freestyle, where she finished 23rd and 25th, respectively. She was also part of the Bulldogs’ 200 freestyle relay team that finished 24th.
Natalie Pike, who was also part of that relay team, is back and will specialize in distance swims this year. Fridrych thinks the junior has a good shot at qualifying for State as an individual this year.
Senior Jordana Jantzke and junior Meghan Crowley, the last two swimmers from RB’s State qualifying relay team, are back as well. Both should make the cut in individual events with improvement this year.
Also returning is Megan St. John, a junior that transferred into district midway through last year.
St. John just missed the cut for State a year ago, but is likely to be a strong contender in the 200 and 500 freestyle this year.
Katherine Pike and Claire Walsh are a pair of freshmen that Fridrych thinks will be significant contributors.
The Bulldogs should have plenty of internal competition for spots as Fridrych estimates he has almost twice as many girls out for the team over last year, including 12 freshmen, most of which have swimming experience. He credits the buildup with the support that the RB feeder programs have gotten from the parents and the community, along with the commitment of the athletes.
Despite the team’s rapid growth, nobody is a stranger on the Bulldogs’ roster.
“I think one thing about the girls this year is that their camaraderie is really showing,” Fridrych said.
“This is a real close-knit group that’s focusing on what needs to be done at the end of the year. They all know how to work and how much effort is going to need to go into that.”