Lyons Township senior swimmer Tim Madigan began Saturday thinking he’d do one thing.
He finished it having accomplished something different and much more significant.
Filling in for Michael Walsh, who was out with an illness, Madigan swam three events at the West Suburban Conference Silver Division meet. He began the meet by helping the Lions’ 200-yard medley relay team set a conference meet record and capped his day by capturing the 100-yard breaststroke.
That helped the host Lions win the Silver championship for the second straight year. LTHS won the meet with 333 points, while Hinsdale Central was second with 281 points and Oak Park and River Forest third at 187.
“It was really eventful,” Madigan said. “I went in today thinking I’d swim JV. Then I got moved up to varsity and it was just really incredible.
“I didn’t expect it. It meant a lot and to finish out the way I did was awesome.”
Madigan has been on varsity since his sophomore year but originally did not make the conference meet lineup because the defending state champion Lions are loaded with talent.
“He was going to swim JV but we have Michael Walsh home with the flu, so Tim Madigan came in this morning and we’re like, ‘Timmy, you’re swimming up at the varsity level,'” LTHS coach Scott Walker said. “He just really did wonders for us. It was his last week and we’re really happy for him.”
Madigan, who will not swim in college, won his final swim, the breaststroke, in 59.74 seconds. That came on the heels of a fifth-place finish in the 200 individual medley and a record-setting 200 medley relay.
The quartet of junior Spencer Walker, Madigan and seniors Jeff Vitek and Ryan Hammond won in 1:35.09, the best time in the state this season.
“I was really happy with my swims in the medley relay and the breast,” Madigan said. “I think it was a great way to end my four years of swimming.”
Madigan was especially proud of his contribution to the team’s historic day. The Silver title was just the fifth in program history. This is the second time the Lions have won consecutive league championships but the first time they have won two in a row outright.
“It means a lot,” Madigan said. “It’s a lot bigger than I thought it would be and as far as for the team, it means a lot for the rest of the season to those guys (who will swim at sectionals).”
Indeed, the Lions appear primed for a run at another state title. All three of their relays broke meet records and Spencer Walker set a new record, 50.88, in the 100 backstroke.
The Lions’ 200 free relay squad of Hammond, seniors Matt Linden and David Rak and junior Henry Claesson lowered the league record to 1:27.05, which is the second-best time in the state this season, and the 400 free relay team of Hammond, Linden, Walker and Claesson timed 3:10.89, smashing the previous mark of 3:13.54 set by Hinsdale Central in 1971.
Taking down the Silver’s oldest record was unexpected.
“None of us really felt that well, so we kind of felt bad the entire week leading up to this,” Spencer Walker said. “Breaking the records here, it’s cool because it will say LT on the heat sheets (in the future). It will be in the books.
“But this doesn’t really matter for us. In three weeks is what is going to matter.”
The Lions have been building toward the postseason, which begins with the Downers Grove South Sectional on Feb. 18 and ends a week later with the state finals at New Trier, in impressive fashion. They have state medal threats in nearly every event and it showed Saturday.
Claesson won the 200 free in 1:43.37 and 100 free in 46.80, while Walker captured the difficult double of the 500 free and 100 backstroke, taking the former in 4:46.88 before his record-setting backstroke swim, which was just .07 off his personal best time.
“That was impressive,” Scott Walker said of his son’s accomplishment. “It’s going to be a big confidence-booster for him because nobody does that (combo) back-to-back.
“That 500 swim of his three weeks from now is going to be very, very important. That is going to be a big swim for him and for the team. Then he’s got to turn around and swim the back.”
How does Spencer Walker do it?
“You train, I guess,” he said. “In high school we do a lot of yards, which is going to be bad for Ryan because he’s a sprinter, so he dies a lot.
“In club I’m just getting manhandled so it’s a big workload. But your body gets used to it.”
The workload didn’t seem to affect Hammond, who in addition to his three relay swims also won the 50 free in 21.70.
“It’s great,” Hammond said. “This was my last meet here at this pool swimming for this team, so I wanted to go out and make sure that I had a swim that I can live with.
“We’re just on a mission. We want to go as hard as we can until we’re done.”
LTHS’ other champion was Seamus Scotty, who easily won the diving competition with 516.05 points, 38 points clear of anyone else.
In other results, Rak was second in the 200 I.M. and Ben Johnston followed suit in the 100 butterfly.
It all bodes well for what the Lions hope will be another state title, though they aren’t getting too excited yet.
“The team is definitely trying to stay modest,” Madigan said. “(We try to) just do our best, the same thing we did last year and we hope to do the best we can.”
If the Lions are feeling any pressure from the high expectations, they aren’t showing it.
“I think we’ve (handled) it very well,” Hammond said. “There’s been a lot of talk, but we just try to keep our heads down, let our times do the talking.”