2013 Swim team preview

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This week’s June 12 edition of the Republic-Times newspaper contains a preview of each of the local swim teams, the Hilltoppers and the Piranhas. The print edition also includes the two team’s summer swim meet schedules. Here are the two articles:

Hilltoppers looking to make a splash

Kyle Feeney, Clayton Foster and Maddy Reye help out at a recent Hilltoppers Swim Clinic. (Jeremy Kovarik photo)

BY JEREMY KOVARIK
For the Republic-Times

The Dupo Hilltoppers Swim Team has been on the rise over the last few years. In 2009, the Hilltoppers finished in sixth place in the Midwest Swim Conference. In 2010, they took third place. In 2011 and 2012, the Hilltoppers continued to progress, finishing in second place.

Dupo hopes to continue improving this year. Along with ambitions of winning the conference, seventh-year head coach Salle Plunkett hopes her younger swimmers learn all of the strokes, and that her older swimmers master stroke technique, “and obviously, having fun is very important,” the coach added.

The Hilltoppers have 132 swimmers this year. Among that number, Plunkett is counting on several swimmers to make major contributions.

“We have several kids who swim year-round,” Plunkett said. “They are always well prepared to get us a lot of points.”

Some of those top swimmers include Maddy Reye, Haley Reye, Kyle Feeney and Clayton Foster.

Dupo’s competition in the Midwest Swim Conference consists of eight teams, including two-time defending champion O’Fallon, Kings Point, Freeburg, St. Clair Country Club, Highland, Dorchester, Scott Air Force Base and Westhaven. According to Plunkett, the league is competitive from top to bottom, so it will take plenty of practice and hard work for the Hilltoppers to fulfill their championship aspirations.

“We’re working to get better,” she said.

But while stressing the need for improvement—especially in the breaststroke—Plunkett expressed confidence in her team’s ability to compete in all events, particularly the relays.

“We’ve always been good in the relays, which is helpful because those races are worth a lot of points.”

An energetic and enthusiastic head coach, Plunkett enjoys her role.

“I always love seeing kids progress, improve, have fun, and come back the next year,” she said.

Piranhas hungry for one final Kaskaskia crown

BY JEREMY KOVARIK
For the Republic-Times

Andy Bennett swims the breaststroke for the Piranhas in last year’s conference meet. Bennett looks to be one of Waterloo’s top swimmers this year. (John Hooser photo)

They say all good things must come to an end. The saying applies to the once-strong Kaskaskia Swim Conference. The league, which has dwindled from 10 teams to just four, is shutting down after this summer. Regardless, the Waterloo Piranhas plan on contending for the championship once again.

“Our goal, of course, is to win (the) conference,” Piranhas coach Bart Jones said. “We’ll do our best to meet that goal.”

The Piranhas have a tradition of success. A swimming dynasty, Waterloo has won 10 conference titles in the last 12 years, and took second place in 2008 and 2012.

The closing of the Waterloo city pool prior to the summer of 2010 has presented some challenges to the Piranhas, mostly in the form of travel, but it has not stopped them from making waves.

They hold daily practices at the YMCA, and will host two meets at their new “home pool” this year. Jones is pleased with the way that the YMCA has accommodated his team over the past few years, saying that they have been “great to work with.”

While Waterloo boasts a strong team again this year, they will face some stiff competition. The Trenton Torpedoes, who toppled the Piranhas in last summer’s conference championship, once again appear to be the team to beat. The Torpedoes have more than 100 swimmers on their team, compared to the Piranhas’ 60.

Despite the deficit, Jones believes his squad of swimmers has what it takes to regain the conference crown.

In order to accomplish that feat, Jones is looking for stronger times in some key events, including the breaststroke.

“I know these kids possess the ability to improve,” he said.

While he is confident in all of his swimmers, Jones has especially high hopes for his 13- 14 and 15-18 age groups, including seasoned swimmers Andy Bennett, Miranda Foster, Kyle Wagner and Kennedy Moehrs.

“They have always performed at a high level,” Jones said. “From my first year coaching here all the way up to now.”

In addition, the coach is excited about several swimmers who have improved over the off-season. Jones mentioned Ryleigh Kernan (13-14 girls), Kayla Ahne (9-10 girls), Samantha Otten (8 and under girls), Sophie Britweiser (6 and under girls), and Grant Higgerson (9-10 boys) as potential breakout swimmers for 2013.

Furthermore, Jones says it’s “awesome” to have Cameron Rubemeyer (15-18 boys) back in the pool. Rubemeyer was seriously injured in a car accident last summer.

Along with winning the conference championship, Jones has several other goals for the season.

“As always, I hope that each kid improves, gains confidence and has fun throughout the summer,” he said.

Jones also hopes that his team, which won the league Sportsmanship Award in 2012, will continue to exhibit character and class in and out of the pool.

Waterloo opens the season in Greenville on Wednesday, June 12.


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