Last weekend was Lakeland Swim Club’s divisional meet at Antigo, where swimmers can qualify for the Central Wisconsin Swim Conference (CWSC) championship the following weekend.
These two meets are the culmination of a four-month season for most of the Lakeland swimmers. Out of the 73 swimmers who went to divisionals, 26 of these swimmers will continue through the first weekend in March competing at the regional and state level.
Lakeland’s division includes Rhinelander, Merrill, Antigo and Tomahawk.
Lakeland had a great weekend, taking the first place spot in 48 of the 118 events, an impressive 40 percent of all the events. Though Lakeland has a lot of talent, they were outnumbered by a large Rhinelander team and took second place overall.
“It was a very fun meet. All of the teams in the division get along really well. It seems like our swimmers have friends on each team. That goes for the coaches, too, we all get along and like to see everyone’s swimmers do well. It is a great example of healthy competition and sportsmanship,” head coach Chris Garcia said. “We had some unfortunate disqualifications, but hopefully they will be lessons learned. But overall, I know every swimmer came away with something they could feel good about.”
The meet was broken into two days: The 12 and under age group swam on Saturday and the 13 and up age group on Sunday. Lakeland was off to a terrific start winning both the boys and girls eight and under 100 freestyle.
Max Nowak (8) won by an overwhelming 19 seconds. Saylor Timmerman (8) won for the girls in a close race. It was almost a sweep for Lakeland in the medley relays, the eight and under boys and both nine-10 relays took the top spots. Liam Hogan (10) had a great day by winning the 50 freestyle, 100 individual medley, 100 freestyle and 100 backstroke. Liam achieved USA state qualifying times in the 50 free and 100 back.
“Liam was so close last year so I’m really happy to see him get this goal,” Garcia said.
Mariah Angove (10) also won all her individual events, the 200 freestyle, 100 breaststroke, 200 individual medley and 100 backstroke.
“Mariah is a very gifted swimmer and swims as if she is much older,” Garcia said.
Other great personal swims came from Osaya Sule (8) in the 25 and 50 free, Eric Walbruck (10) finished first in the 50 back and Kevin Schaars (7) in the 25 breast. Leo Rotar (8) had a rough go in the 50 free losing his goggles but came right back to take a close second in the 25 back.
Troy Rice (8), Avery Tucker (8), Trin Benbenek (9), Sam Block (9), and Liam Main (10) also qualified for the conference meet which meant all of the Lakeland boys will move on.
On the girls side, Megan Haggart was a bit under the weather but managed to pull out two first places and three second place finishes. Katherine Tiffany was a wonderful surprise taking third in the 100 breast. Naomi Hamerla was trying for a state qualifying time in the 50 fly and missed it by three one-hundredths of one second, but has another shot at it next week. LaCrosse Margitan swam a personal best in the 50 back and will move on to conference.
“I was so happy to see the progress each swimmer has made throughout the season,” Garcia said. “The swimmers that see the most improvement are the ones that stick to a consistent practice schedule without taking extended time off. Swimming requires lots of hard work and endurance building. I give all my swimmers credit for their dedication to the sport.”
Sunday brought the older age groups to the pool. The day started off with the Teichmiller cousins of Tyler (11) and Celeste (12) both taking fourth in the boys’ and girls’ 11-12 100 backstroke, respectively. The girls’ open medley relay of Missy Angove (16), Aly Boh (15), Hanna Garcia (15) and Hailey Teichmiller (16) took first place.
“It is so fun to have these girls from the high school team join for the club season,” Garcia said. “They are all very talented and I can put them in any event and pretty much have a guaranteed win. They each won or took second in their individual events on Sunday.”
Lakeland has very deep talent on the girl’s side, especially the 13-14 age group. Lakeland took first and second in the 13-14 medley relay event. Lakeland just about swept the 200 free event in each age group. Alex Tucker (12), Halle Richards (11), Jack (13) and Georgia Garcia (13) and Hailey Teichmiller (16) each won the 200 free by a large margin.
Lakeland also took the top five spots in the girls 13-14 50 free. Asha Jain (13) won the event with Kennedy Richards (13) only one-tenth of one second behind.
Another impressive event for Lakeland was the girls’ 13-14 200 individual medley. Lakeland took six of the top seven spots.
“I am proud that Lakeland can have such a strong showing in the IM events, where swimmers must swim each of the four strokes: fly, back, breast and free,” Garcia said. “It shows that we have very versatile swimmers which will be great when they get to the high school program.”
Holly Jaeger (13) and Kiona Poupart (13) had an awesome race against each other in the 100 fly with Holly getting the win by only seven-tenths of one second. Another exciting race came in the 100 free with Kennedy Richards (13) and Anntaya Corbesia (13). Kennedy was in the lead most of the way but Anntaya really turned it on in the last 10 yards to just out-touch Kennedy.
On the boy’s side, Brandon Boh (12) had a terrific day, earning state-qualifying times in the 50 back, 50 free, and 50 breast. Jack Garcia was another state qualifier in the 100 back. Neil Borden (14) and Jack Metzger (13) were both part of the first place 200 free relay and qualified for conference in more individual events.
Osamu Sule (11) also scored some points for Lakeland by qualifying in three individual events and was part of the winning 11-12 200 free relay. Keegan McJoynt (11) was a big help in both relays and also gained a third place finish in the 100 free.
Every swimmer in both the girls and boys age groups that swam on Sunday qualified for conference championships next weekend. This is an outstanding accomplishment.
Next week Lakeland will be off to Tomahawk for the CWSC championships. Lakeland will be bringing almost their entire team as many qualified to move on.
“I am looking forward to see our qualifiers swim their races again in a yard pool,” Garcia said. “Antigo, for divisionals, was a meter pool and very difficult to convert accurate times. This makes it hard for swimmers to see if their swims were ‘true’ personal bests. We also didn’t rest much for this meet as conference is a bigger event. Again, I would love to mention every swimmer because they each have a special talent, but with 73 it would be impossible. I do want all my swimmers to know that each of them contributes much to our team; their spirit, their talent and their enthusiasm is what makes our team so great.”