After several Riverside-Brookfield High School swimmers narrowly missed qualifying for the state-cut last season, head coach Todd Fridrych believes the Bulldogs potentially can earn the state-admitting side of the stopwatch this season.

“It’s a huge motivation [missing the state cut],” Fridrych said. “Our swimmers want to get faster and better. The top goal is getting as many of them as we can to qualify for state.”

Seniors Kyle Miller and Fitz Robling lead RB into the pool this season. Swimming distance events since his freshman year, Miller is primed for a run at state in the 500-yard freestyle. Robling replaces Jerry Brown, who graduated in June, as the Bulldogs’ top sprinter (50-yard freestyle, 100-yard freestyle).

Junior/team captain John Copp will swim the 100-yard butterfly and 200-yard IM, while fellow junior Sean Demuro is a skilled 100-yard backstroker.

“John trains hard and is the glue of our team,” Fridrych said. “Sean is three inches taller and has gotten a lot stronger. They will be part of our 200-yard medley relay team along with Robling and either Miller or Vince Pozzie. That event with these guys is probably our best chance to qualify for state.”

Pozzie, loaded with talent and upside according to Fridrych, may see action in the 200 IM, 100-yard breaststroke and 200 free.

Nick Lazzarra (100-yard butterfly, 200 free), sophomore Luke Keller (50 free, 100 free), Ken Castle (sprint events, backstroke), Patrikas Gladstein, and senior captain Chris Buh all should contribute this season.

Lazzarra has a tremendous work ethic and finished very strong last season. Keller, who also plays football and baseball, possesses great athleticism. Buh, the Bulldogs’ top worker in the weight room, provides leadership.

“We don’t really have that elite swimmer that controls events,” Fridrych said. “I think we have a good group of guys who are stroke-specific. I also like that we’re a young, goal-oriented team.”

RB should battle defending champion Oswego and DeKalb for the Independent Conference title.

“Our hat is definitely in the ring to win conference,” Fridrych said. “Our swimmers are very coachable. They want to have the best season possible.”

The Bulldogs hosts their first triangular on Friday (5 p.m.) against Downers Grove South and Oak Park. The RB Invite is Saturday, Jan. 15 (8:30 a.m. diving/12:00 p.m. swimming).

“A lot of our guys got right back into the water when [last season] ended,” Fridrych said. “I’m really excited to see how we’ll do this year.”