The dog days of the boys swimming season are here.
That means several weeks of the toughest training of the year interspersed with a handful of meets where swimmers are expected to race despite being exhausted.
The Riverside-Brookfield High School boys team did it well on Saturday. The Bulldogs finished second at their own invite with 300.50 points, just 12.5 behind St. Ignatius in the 12-team field. Oak Park and River Forest was a distant third with 217 points.
RBHS would have won the meet if not for St. Ignatius’ strong showing in several frosh-soph relays that are counted in the standings.
“We had a lot of swims that came out of nowhere that really crept up on us and we had a few guys that really came out and swam some amazing swims for us,” RBHS senior Quinn Risley said. “Tim Walsh and Joey Rosa really came out of nowhere and dropped a lot of time.”
The Bulldogs really put the hammer down on the relays, which are worth double points at the state meet. RBHS is trying to build strength in all three relays in a bid to maximize points at state.
The strategy is working so far. The Bulldogs won the 200-yard medley relay in 1:38.51 behind Walsh, Christian Chavez, Kevin Garza and Risley, while the 200 freestyle quartet of Rosa, Anthony Colon, Christian Hernandez and Risley was victorious in 1:28.80.
The medley time was the fourth-fastest in the state this season while the 200 free clocking ranks eighth.
The Bulldogs’ 400 free relay team of Garza, Hernandez, Colon and Walsh finished second to St. Ignatius in 3:19.36, which currently is the 15th best time.
“I think a good [characteristic] of a team that will perform well at state is how your relays are performing [when] you are tired,” Risley said. “Right now we’ve got a few relays that are really in that top-12 range and we’re just going to keep working on it because every team has a perfect lineup for each relay and we’ve just got to figure out who we want on them.
“But right now I think we’re doing exactly what we should be and we’re tired. The 200 free is really up there and I think our medley relay, as opposed to the last two years, will probably be one of our best relays. If we get the state cut before sectionals, that will be huge and not a lot of teams do that, so that’s our main goal for the relays.”
Risley has some lofty individual goals as well. The Iowa recruit is gunning for state titles in the 50 free and 100 free. He cruised to victory in both races Saturday, timing 21.44 in the 50 and 47.10 in the 100 and is ranked fourth in the state in each event.
“I set out last year and decided I wanted to try and win my events at state, so I’ve really taken to the tired life,” Risley said. “Last year I think I didn’t take the weight training and the sprint training as hard as I could, so this year I’ve just embraced the tired and tried to keep myself as run down as possible so that when it comes to that state meet I’ll be able to post the best times I can.”
Risley isn’t the only standout for RBHS. Garza captured the 200 individual medley in 2:03.46 and followed that up by winning his specialty, the 100 butterfly, in 52.13. Garza’s margin of victory in both races was an impressive three seconds.
“I was a bit surprised with my 200 individual medley time,” Garza said. “I expected it to be a close race, but I was surprised with the time. I was hoping to drop time because I don’t ever really swim that event and I wanted to go out and see how well I could do. Overall I was happy with it.
“As for the 100 fly, I expected it to be a little faster, but it was still a pretty quick time so I’m happy with it. I had a different time in the back of my mind but I can’t complain. We’ve been training hard.”
Garza is ranked seventh in the butterfly and is drawing recruiting interest from Division I schools like UIC, IUPUI and Miami (Ohio), but he and Risley are hardly a two-man show.
Walsh was second in the backstroke (56.79) and fifth in the 500 free (5:08.60), while Dominic Rosa was fourth in the 100 breaststroke (1:04.25), one place ahead of Chavez, and eighth in the 200 IM (2:10.70).
Joe Rosa placed fifth in the 200 free (1:51.35) and eighth in the butterfly (57.0). Also turning in two top-10 finishes were Hernandez in the 50 free (fifth, 22.44) and 100 free (sixth, 50.52) and Colon in the 200 free (seventh, 1:52.56) and backstroke (eighth, 59.5).
Those performances bode well for the Bulldogs, who are ranked 19th in the state.
“We’re closing down on championship time,” Garza said. “It’s when we train the hardest, so overall I’m happy.
“We’re definitely working on getting our team name out there. We saw last year it opened doors for us. We saw that as an opportunity to come in this year and try to get faster, improve more and create more damage out there.”