Riverside-Brookfield High School boys swimming coach Todd Fridrych had the feeling the 2013-14 season was going to be a good one, but he didn’t know exactly how good.
The season turned out to be one of the greatest in school history. The Bulldogs won their own invitational and the Independent Conference meet during the regular season and followed that up by winning their first sectional championship.
That sectional title was just the 11th in any sport for RBHS and served notice that the Bulldogs are a swimming program on the rise. That’s why this remarkable squad has been named the Riverside-Brookfield Landmark Team of the Year.
“[The sectional title] was just awesome and incredibly rewarding,” Fridrych said. “This is kind of a stepping stone. You have to do something great to be considered great.”
Indeed, while this team is considered one of the greatest RBHS has ever assembled, it still is not a great team by statewide standards. But that may be changing.
The Bulldogs scored 14 points at the state meet to finish 27th in the standings. With all but one swimmer from the sectional lineup returning, they figure to move up next year as they shoot for their first top-10 finish since 1960.
“The top 10 is an outside objective,” Fridrych said. “We do have the assets to do it. Now we’ll have a greater focus on getting kids medals at the state meet.”
The Bulldogs already have one individual state medalist in Quinn Risley, who finished fifth in the 50-yard freestyle as a junior. He is just the 11th state medalist in school history.
Risley won a second medal when he joined sophomore Christian Hernandez, junior Anthony Colon and senior Tim Somers in taking 11th in the 200 free relay. They were the first RBHS relay team to medal since 1960 and just the fourth in school history.
Juniors Dominic Rosa, Kevin Garza and Christian Chavez also gained state meet experience.
“I think just the makeup of the team was strong,” Fridrych said. “The other thing is that most of the kids who swam at sectionals had already had the experience of swimming at a sectional before. Once you have that firsthand experience it’s easier to have success. The nerves and butterflies subside.”
Somers, who will join the club water polo team at Purdue, was the team captain and set an unselfish tone by swimming all three relays in addition to the 50 free.
“He will be a tough one to replace,” Fridrych said. “He grew up in the system and became a very good swimmer in his four years here. His work ethic and the example he set for his teammates was second to none.”
Even so, Fridrych is confident other swimmers will step up to replace Somers, and the team will set its sights even higher next winter.
“We had some great leadership and a lot of it had come from the confidence they had,” Fridrych said. “A lot of our kids grew into leaders and then we had tremendous talent. Good things happen when you have both of those.”