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One high school swimming program in DuPage County has taken a major step forward and another may have exciting news in the near future.
Beginning with the girls season last fall, the Glenbard North/East co-op team finally has a home pool with the opening of the Fountain View Recreation Center in Carol Stream, about 1.5 miles from Glenbard North.
The 96,000 square foot center houses an eight-lane pool, diving area and warm-water therapy pool in addition to full gymnasium facilities. It was financed by the park district referendum for $37 million.
Co-op boys coach Troy Murray notices a big difference in the program now that the boys have a home pool that gives them increased practice time, less travel and the ability to host meets with teams from other schools.
"The park district has been very generous, especially during winter break when we were able to hold two-and-a-half hour practices," Murray said. "We usually have six lanes. The kids have more space than they did at the pools we used to use, and that allows us to do work more tailored to this skill level."
Meanwhile, The Glenbard West/South co-op team is working with the Glen Ellyn Park District to build an indoor pool, possibly as an addition to the Ackerman Sports and Fitness Center. The pool would be funded by the Glen Ellyn Acquatics Initiative.
Lake Park looking to build:
If the Roselle Park District's referendum for $8.5 million is passed in April, the Lake Park girls and boys teams will also have a home after many years of a nomadic existence that has seen the teams travel more than a half-hour to several different facilities, including pools in Hoffman Estates, Streamwood and Bartlett.
The proposal is for a complete aquatic center, which will be connected to the school's east campus. It will benefit the entire communities of Roselle, Itasca, Bloomingdale and parts of Hanover Park, and, if it passes, it should be ready for use in about two years.
Lake Park swimming coach Dan Witteveen is optimistic about the proposal's passage.
"This is important not only for our swim teams but for the entire community, from newborns to senior citizens," Witteveen said. "It will include a diving pool, a therapeutic warming pool, and even an area for birthday parties and other events. We'll be able to host U.S. Swimming meets there."
Witteveen lauds his team for their acceptance of the extensive travel and limited practice time over the years.
"The kids have adjusted well," he said. "We've had some good teams that featured a number of state qualifiers, and our swimmers as a group have done a terrific job of excelling academically. But it will be a lot better to have our own facility."
Wheaton co-op coach Jacob Ayers went into the season sure that his team was improved over last year.
The co-op team has been consistently strong over the years, but last year ended on a down note when the Wheaton swimmers failed to score at the state meet.
This year a couple of outstanding racers, senior Tommy Reminger and junior Max St. George, are determined to make sure Wheaton will have ample representation on Saturday at the state meet.
At last Saturday's Hinsdale South College Events meet, Wheaton finished fourth in the team standings, but the day included some outstanding performances.
Reminger finished first in the 200 butterfly and second in the 500 freestyle, and St. George bested the competition in the 200 backstroke.
And the two joined two other impressive teammates junior Matt Rogers and senior Peter Hummel to win the 400 freestyle relay.
"As a team we had a lot of guys finish in the top six," Ayers said. "But Tommy and Max set the tone for us and get everyone excited."
"We have a pretty strong state team this year," Reminger said. "We want to get those points for Jake. You can tell everyone's excited because the whole team was up cheering for everyone in every race."
"Everyone in that relay had their best swims," St. George said. "That consistency in every leg worked really well for us."
A good combination:
The West Chicago/Batavia co-op arrangement is working out really well and seems destined to produce some state-qualifying swims.
"Our guys' mentality is great," coach Nicole Cleveland said. "They always get up and race no matter the opposition. And the kids from the two schools have bonded as friends."
The team is led by senior Alex Lelaian, a senior who recently broke the West Chicago 500 freestyle record with a 4:54.11 in a dual meet against Leyden. Lelaian, is also near the state cut in the 200 free, and he expects to qualify for state in both events.
"I don't have to tell Alex how hard to work," Cleveland said. "He does everything as hard and as fast as he can. The same goes for Karsten Cook, a senior who can make it in the 100 fly. These kids can work without direction and they keep challenging each other."
Lelaian and Cook and fellow members of the 200 medley relay team, sophomore Cooper Hawkins and senior Aidan Culloton, could also combine to qualify for state.