Created:Thursday, January 10, 2013 11:39 p.m.CDT
Updated:Thursday, January 10, 2013 11:46 p.m.CDT
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Inside Boys Swimming

Athlete of the Week

Michael Hamann

Cary-Grove co-op, sr.

The three-time state qualifier had a strong performance Saturday at the Elk Grove Invitational in the Trojans’ first meet since winter break practices.

Hamann totaled four first-place finishes at the meet in two relays and two individual events.

The Trojans won the meet by nearly 100 points.

“Hamann swam really, really well,” Trojans coach Rick Schaefer said. “We didn’t have him swim the backstroke, which he has swum in the state meet the past two years, but we are going to start getting back to that. His butterfly looked really good (52.57) as well as his [individual medley].”

Noteworthy

Huntley’s grueling week: Huntley’s team doesn’t have the luxury of its own pool, so practices over winter break weren’t much different than normal, but the swimmers were able to get quality work in with the time they were allotted.

“We don’t get any more pool time than usual,” Red Raiders coach Rachael Schwingen said. “So we didn’t have the typical ‘bulk up’ sessions like the other schools, but we got some good work in.”

The work paid off immediately as the Red Raiders took second out of 11 teams in the post-break Rockford Auburn Invitational on Saturday. The Red Raiders also had back-to-back meets Wednesday and Thursday against the District 300 co-op and McHenry.

“It’s a killer,” Schwingen said of the invitational followed by back-to-back meets. “Two in a row is especially tough on them. Just putting that much energy in is exhausting on top of riding the bus to the meets.”

But the young team has risen to the occasion and has started to swim some fast times. The Red Raiders’ team is made up of four freshmen, two seniors, two juniors and two sophomores, and Schwingen has seen production from her swimmers no matter the age.

Matt Haage, a senior who swims the sprint freestyle events, is zeroing in on a state-qualifying time in the 50 freestyle. His best time was 23.11 seconds, which is close to the cut, but he had a bad start off the blocks, so his coach believes he can go much faster.

On the other end of the spectrum, Ben Cazel has been swimming with club teams since he was young, which has propelled him to the varsity level in his freshman year. Schwingen said Cazel is one of the most well-rounded swimmers on the team and has great potential.

Look for the Red Raiders to make some waves during the back half of the season as they aim to accomplish their goals.

“We have some solid goals individually for some swimmers and as a team,” Schwingen said. “We swim Woodstock in two weeks, and we are looking forward to that. We didn’t beat them in the dual meet last year, but we beat them in the Fox Valley Conference Meet. Our goal is to beat teams head-to-head this year.”

This week’s top meet

Jefferson Invitational, 11 a.m. Saturday

Cary-Grove and McHenry take part in this meet in Rockford, which should produce a lot of fast times, as a number of good schools will be present.

C-G’s Schaefer said he will use the meet as a measuring stick for where his team is coming out of the break.

“It’s not the greatest pool, but there have always been fast times here,” Schaefer said. “Evanston (where the state meet is held) doesn’t have the greatest pool either, so it will be a good test for us and good experience. We are hoping for some good swims from a number of guys.

“Hamann will also swim the backstroke here, and we’ll see where he is at with that this time of the year. He has a lot of options; his strokes are all very strong.”

Patrick Mason

pmason@shawmedia.com