The Lakeland Loons Swim Club has the future of the Lakeland Union High School swim teams in mind.
No one proved that more than Nate Kellner, Nick Garcia and Carolyn Kelk who competed March 3-6 at the USA Swimming Wisconsin State Swim Meet held in Brown Deer.
Kellner (14), Garcia (14) and Carolyn Kelk (16) were part of a competitor field of more than 600 who all took to the water in the four-day event, vying for rights as the state's best. According to coach Chris Garcia, there was no shortage of talent.
"These are the most talented swimmers in the state, with even former Olympians competing," she said. "They are amazing to watch."
The Schroeder Aquatic Center in Brown Deer hosted the event. A Mecca for swimming, the building houses two 25-yard pools that run end-to-end with moveable bulkheads in between each, that when moved, convert the facility into a 50-meter pool.
"With two pools, the men and women run at the same time, which means there is constant action," Garcia said. "And after five long months of practice, five days a week for an hour and a half each day, Nick, Nate and Carolyn were anxious to compete."
Kellner qualified in the 50 freestyle while he also took part in the 100 breaststroke and 100 butterfly events.
In the freestyle, he finished just 0.24 seconds above his personal best time which had him in at a time of 25.74. Kellner made up for it in the breaststroke where he dropped over two seconds, posting a time of 1:19.31.
"He also had a personal best in the 100 fly - dropping 0.76 with a final time of 1:09.51," Garcia said.
Chris's son, Nick, also had a solid competition. Having qualified for the state meet in nine separate events, Garcia needed to choose six which he would specify in at Brown Deer.
"He swam the 200 free and 100 fly on Friday. but did not get personal bests, although still good times of 1:58.52 and 1:04.47, respectively," his coach said. "Saturday brough about better times in the 50 free and 500 free with personal bests in both."
His times there were 24.50 and 5:20.34 ... good enough for 25th and 23rd place overall in the field.
Nick came back on Sunday and posted another couple of personal bests. He first swam the 100 freestyle, finishing in a time of 53.45. After that it was the 200 medley where his time of 2:16.79 set a new personal record.
"Both Nick and Nate are looking forward to contributing to the Lakeland Union High School team next year," Chris said.
Kelk made waves of her own at the meet as she showed why she was one of Lakeland's best swimmers a year ago, and why, if she stays healthy, she will be for years to come.
Though she swam in one of the toughest women's divisions at the tourney, she earned a lot of respect of both her coach and fellow swimmers as she hung right with the competition.
Beginning Friday, Kelk swam the 100 butterfly right out of the chutes and managed a good time, spacing just a 0.08 gain in time over her personal best.
"She looked incredibly smooth," Garcia said.
Kelk came back on Saturday and really took off as she swam the 50 freestyle as part of the Splash 'N Dash races. She finished exactly on her seed time of 25.39 and swam what her coach called a "really a great race."
"Carolyn has been a great role model for Nick and Nate and everyone on our team," Chris said. "She is extremely hard working and completely dedicated to swimming."
Along with the three 13-and-older competitors, Lakeland also sent members of their team to the 12-and-under state tourney.
Those qualifiers were Alexandria Gallegos, Vansh Jain, Hanna Garcia, Olivia Thompson, Asha Jain, Jack Garcia, Georgia Garcia and Kennedy Richards.
Doug Etten may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.