With 85 boys in the Lyons Township swim program, it’s clearly a case of all swimmers on (the pool) deck heading into this season for head coach Scott Walker. The Lions certainly will employ a strength-in-numbers approach this season, but several outstanding swimmers unquestionably will lead the way.
Senior Joe Shannon is back, fresh off a campaign that saw him set a school record in the 100-yard breaststroke (59.58) en route to qualifying for the IHSA state meet a second time.
Joe Hladik, now swimming at the University of Missouri, held the previous LTHS record at 59.59. Shannon also swam a leg of the Lions’ 200-yard freestyle relay state qualifier last year.
Brendan Weibel, another returning state qualifier in the 500 free (4:47.97 last year, just under the state cut of 4:48.24), will also anchor the Lions’ roster. Junior Pete Dore also returns as one of the Lions’ top sprinters and a member of last year’s aforementioned 200 free relay state-qualifying squad.
Walker also mentioned Sean McMahon, Nathan Kriha, Adam Kline, Thomas Waters, Peter Newman, Jack Garrow, Ben Hewett, Nick Bonneville and Lucas O’Bryan as swimmers slated to make a further impact this season. Freshmen Weston Credit, Chris Phillips and Ben Butikofer are in the mix as well.
The Lions’ most substantial loss to graduation was Danny McGuinness, who qualified for state in the 50 free (21.63), 100 free (47.25) and 200 free relay (1:28.18) last season.
“We’re just trying to get into shape and see what happens after Christmas,” Walker said. “We should have more specific goals around that time. We’re starting to develop as it all goes in cycles between rebuilding and reloading.
“Last year, I really liked the way we were swimming towards the end of the season.”
The Lions went 5-2 in conference en route to a third-place finish in the West Suburban Silver last season. LTHS (324 points) also took third in sectional competition trailing champion Fenwick (408) and Oak Park-River Forest (336), while Riverside-Brookfield High School came in fourth with 297 points.
The Lions notched five entries for the state meet prelims, recorded 15 top-six finishes, and produced excellent time drops (all 19 swimming entries) across the board at the Fenwick sectional last season.
This year, Hinsdale Central is the prohibitive conference favorite followed by Oak Park and LTHS.
The Lions have already claimed a dual meet victory over Glenbrook North this season, along with a seventh-place finish at the Stevenson Invite and third-place showing at the Barrington Invite.