As a former Lyons Township and Eastern Illinois University swimmer and boys swimming coach at Naperville North, Kurt Johns has gathered experience as both competitor and coach around the pool. The 1998 LT grad dives into a new opportunity this fall as the girls head coach at his alma mater.

“I’m really excited about this chance to coach at LT,” Johns said. “To come back [to LT] is very cool and a special treat for me.”

The Lions welcome back a strong nucleus of swimmers with state finals competition experience. Louisa Hoffman, Katie Foran, Kristine Rosenberger and Jennifer Weigand clocked a time of 1:38.27 in the 200-yard freestyle in the state finals, good for eighth place last year. Weigand, Rosenberger, Foran and Elly Vitek also played roles in the Lions’ Top 10 state showings in the 200-yard medley and 400-yard freestyle relay squads.

Weigand, the lone senior among the Lions’ returning state finals qualifiers, will also compete in the 200-yard freestyle, 500-yard freestyle and 100-yard butterfly events.

“Jennifer is a really good leader with a great attitude,” Johns said. “She’s a very talented swimmer, but I really like the positive example she sets for her teammates.”

Hoffman is one of the Lions’ top sprint swimmers. Vitek and Rosenberger are strong, versatile performers slated to compete in as many as three individual events apiece along with relays competition. Foran is an immensely talented swimmer but coming off a second shoulder surgery. Senior Lizzy Kozin and junior Maddie Naughton add depth to the LT lineup

Lyons, which earned a share of the 2010 West Suburban (Silver) Conference title with Hinsdale Central, should battle the Red Devils again along with Downers Grove North for the league championship. The Lions finished 15th overall at the state finals last year.

“We’re trying to have the girls focus on continual improvement,” Johns said. “We don’t have an end goal necessarily in place. If we do the things were supposed to do, I think the results and rewards will take care of themselves.”

Highly-regarded Naperville North and defending state champion New Trier defeated LT in its opening two dual meets this season.