What role will training play for the Riverside-Brookfield girls swimming team this season?

In a word, everything.

“More than ever a lot of girls need to step up their training,” RB coach Todd Fridrych said. “I’ve been throwing in a lot of different stuff [in practice] that they’re not necessarily accustomed to. It might take time, but I have no doubt that they will be able to get it done.”

Junior Amanda Gregus is a returning state qualifier in the 100-yard freestyle (swam: 54.41 at state prelims last year) for the Bulldogs. Teaming up with Lisa Thomas, Clare Walsh and Katherine Pike (all graduated), Gregus was part of last season’s 200-yard freestyle relay and 400-yard freestyle relay teams that also made it to state.

“Amanda is 5-foot-10, 110-pounds and mentally tough,” Fridrych said. “Her practice habits have improved, but she’s still not at the level needed to maximize her talent. Training even harder is the missing link. Once Amanda does that, the sky’s the limit.”

Natalie Benoy is another experienced swimmer poised to make a splash in 2009.

“Like Amanda, Natalie is a bit of a raw talent,” he said. “Natalie was kind of laying in the weeds last season as our fifth swimmer. This year, Natalie will be a
major factor for us.”

Benoy swims the 200-yard individual medley, 100-yard backstroke and 100-yard butterfly events as well.

Junior Kate Walsh, coming off an injury-plagued campaign, has looked impressive heading into the season, according to Fridrych. Walsh will swim the 50-yard freestyle, 100-yard freestyle and 100-yard breaststroke.

Freshman Ally Burke headlines a solid group of first-year swimmers. A distance swimmer, Burke has shown a great work ethic.

“Ally is a little go-getter,” Fridrych said. “She goes 100 miles-per-hour in practice and has a lot of potential.”

Fridrych hopes another six to eight swimmers will emerge from RB’s 25-person roster.

“We have eight freshmen,” Fridrych said. “I think we’ll be able to rely on maybe about four of them by the end of the season. Overall, I think we have a good returning crew of 10 to 12 swimmers.”

The Bulldogs’ goals are top three finishes in conference (which includes DeKalb, Oswego, Fenton and Plainfield Co-op) and at sectionals.

“Fenwick has a dominant team and Oak Park has improved,” Fridrych said. “Leyden, Lyons Township and us should be in the mix [for a top three finish] at the sectional.”