Duneland Athletic Conference
Athletes to watch: Blake Pieroni, Jr., distance; Jack Wallar, Jr., breast; Aaron Whitaker, Jr., fly, sprints; Ethan Whitaker, Jr., distance; Patrick Curley, Jr., breast, distance; Andy Hurst, Jr., fly, distance.
Outlook: Postseason state No. 1 Chesterton finished fourth in the finals last season. Defending 100 free state champ Pieroni, Aaron Whitaker and Wallar each were individual medalists last year, and Ethan Whitaker continues to improve.
Quote: "The top ranking is motivation, but that doesn't give you a true representation of what everyone has (for this season). We have a lot of guys who can swim anything. That helps keep us fresh and allows us to learn more about our team." !~ Coach Kevin Kinel
Athletes to watch: Johnny Lynk, Sr., free, back; Joel Gintzler, Sr., fly; Nick Huls, Sr., free, IM; Sage Chirao, Jr., diving.
Outlook: Coach Doug Norris is excited about a strong group of incoming underclassmen who should make some waves for the Bulldogs. Lynk and Gintzler are keys to how much success the team will experience this year.
Quote: "We have a large number of very talented kids who can swim well. One of the big questions is who will step up and take the place of key losses we had to graduation. We have a very strong and deep team, but the mental aspect is the toughest part.” !~ Norris
Athletes to watch: Luke Paprocki, Sr., free; Josh Barajas, So., IM; Brandon Egebrecht, Sr., back.
Outlook: Coach Todd Smolinski believes that this year’s team may be able to pull off what last year’s squad came close to accomplishing. Sophomores and seniors will make up the majority of the starters.
Quote: "We had a very good year last year. We are very talented, and the guys who are back from last year are hungry to finish what they started.” !~ Smolinski
Athlete to watch: Josh Arndt, Sr., diving.
Outlook: Arndt is the defending state champion. He blossomed in the postseason last year, so a second straight title isn't out of the question.
Athletes to watch: Markus Kluga, free, breast; David Osario, fly, free; Dwayne Fitzpatrick, diving; Greg Vega, free, breast.
Outlook: The Pirates look to be more competitive in the DAC this season while attempting to improve on last season's finish at the Chesterton sectional. Graduation took away key seniors from last year’s team.
Quote: "We are still looking to see where specific swimmers are going to fit into the lineup.” !~ Coach Ladd Downham
Athletes to watch: Matt Quinlan, Sr., breast, IM, free; Isaiah Parrish, Fr., distance; Tim Schoof, Fr., fly; Mohammad Hakim, Fr., breast.
Outlook: Quinlan was 12th in the 100 breast at state last season, and coach Dan Jenkins believes he has a shot at the school record in the 50 free this season. The freshmen trio are all quality age-group swimmers, and they should provide a substantial boost to the lineup.
Quote: "I've got a real stable of swimmers coming to the team. We're really looking forward to this season." !~ Jenkins
Athletes to watch: Cole Ozbolt, Sr., sprint, free, back; Mikee Janes, Jr., IM, fly.
Outlook: Diver Alex Rosales transfered to Griffith, so Ozbolt and Janes lead a team that hopes to build off last season's experiences.
Quote: "Last year our team matured as the season progressed. We return most of our swimmers, and we have much more depth at our disposal." !~ Coach Eric Mundt
Athletes to watch: Andrew Antonetti, Jr., distance; Muyenda Burnett, Sr., diving.
Outlook: State medalists Burnett (runner-up, diving) and Antonetti (fourth, 500 free) return for the Vikings. Dion Low graduated, but freshman younger brother Darian should provide a boost to the lineup.
Quote: "It’s always tough to replace such a good senior class like we lost last year. However, we have done a nice job trying to get new swimmers into the system and have a bigger team than the one we had last year." !~ Coach Adam Nellessen
Great Lake Athletic Conference
Athletes to watch: Ethan Juarez, fly, IM; James Murzyn, sprints; Danny Klus, breast.
Outlook: The Pioneers finished first in the GLAC last season. As a result, Coach Carly Erickson saw a sizable increase in new faces this year.
Quote: "We have a nice mix of upperclassmen and youngsters on the team. We need our experienced swimmers to step up, not just in the pool, but to help build our team.” !~ Erickson
Athletes to watch: Peter Torres, distance; Kaine Krause, back; Mike Howard, fly, IM; Mike Walker, free, back.
Outlook: Katie Gilmore takes over, and she inherits a strong base of swimmers who did surprisingly well last season. With new competitors out, the Gladiators have their sights set on moving up in both conference and sectional.
Quote: "I told the boys that if you have a lane, you have a chance." !~ Gilmore
Athletes to watch: Erik Neverez, Sr., free, IM; Ismael Limon, Sr., free, fly. Anthony Sanchez, Sr., free, back; Mike Kaminski, Jr., free.
Outlook: Even though there are three strong seniors swimming for the Wildcats, graduation took a toll.
Quote: "It’s somewhat of a rebuilding year, but we can still improve our times and do better as the season progresses.” !~ Coach Sue Ann Mathewson
Athlete to watch: Connor Davidson, Jr., sprints.
Outlook: The Governors took a big hit in graduation, losing Brock Daniels (distance), Jonathan Sawyer (fly), and Jose Quinones (IM). Coach Brian Rycerz is mixing and matching swimmers to put together a strong team that can compete for the conference and in the sectional.
Greater South Shore Conference
Athletes to watch: Brayden Banske, Sr., IM, fly; Anthony Repay, Sr., breast, sprints; Justin Figueroa, Jr.; Aaron Kruse, Jr.
Outlook: The Warriors have won three consecutive conference titles, surpassing larger schools with bigger programs. The schedule includes a couple of tougher duals to provide a measuring stick.
Quote: "I have been here five years, and this is the strongest team we have had to date. We are looking forward to some of the more competitive meets, and hope to move up in the sectional this year.” !~ Coach Pam Armagast
Athletes to watch: Jose Perez, Sr., back, IM; Adrian Jimenez, So., sprints, fly.
Outlook: The program almost shut down two years ago. In January, the Warriors will host their first invite. Returners Perez and Jiminez anchor a solid core group that learned a lot about competitive swimming last season.
Quote: "Our core group of returning swimmers has come a long way. They are very fast learners and work very hard. Everyone has accomplished quite a lot in a short time.” !~ Coach AnnMarie Keene
Athletes to watch: Selby Bord, Sr., free; Jon Castle, Jr., free; Zack Bevins, Fr., breast.
Outlook: The Spartans’ numbers are up from eight last year to 12 swimmers this season. Bord and Castle will be counted on to provide leadership.
Quote: "Our outlook is good for this year, even though we lost some good swimmers to graduation.” !~ Coach Audrey Combs-Long
Athlete to watch: Kane Klimczak, So., back.
Outlook: Head coach Gretchen Klimczak said her son just made it back in the pool after football season. Outside of the back, Kane will concentrate on middle-distance free races.
Athletes to watch: Michael Tasicas, Sr, free; Brandon Bolde, So., distance; Dan Gensel, Sr., free, back; Jack Fekete, So., sprints.
Outlook: Coach Rob Gass believes his team could break some school records and be competitive in both the GSSC and the LaPorte Sectional. Freshman Nathan Graf provides a boost.
Quote: "Numbers are down this year, so we're really focusing more on individual accomplishments as opposed to team ones." !~ Gass
Northwest Crossroads Conference
Athletes to watch: Jordan Long, sprints; Alex Rosales, diving; Patrick Bolda free, fly.
Outlook: Second-year coach Danelle Bulatovich has several strong returning swimmers this season. Portage transfer Rosales placed 15th in the state last season.
Quote: "These boys can see some good time drops at top meets if they put themselves into it.” !~ Bulatovich
Athletes to watch: Steve Castillo, Sr., sprints; Chris Dombrowski, So., distance; Sam Gordon, Sr., sprints.
Outlook: The Trojans lost 50 free state champion Adam Johnson to graduation. They still have a lot of returning talent in Castillo, who could make top five in the state in sprints, and returning sectional champ Dombrowski.
Quote: "We have done a lot of foundation work the last couple of years to build a quality culture on our swim team. We want to keep the success of the past couple of years going." -!~ Coach Ryan Harrington
Athletes to watch: Dan Lamphier, Sr., sprints; Austin Sepke, Fr., free, IM; Braden O’Kelley, Jr., free, breast.
Outlook: Jon Foddrill takes over as the coach of the Brickies. Watch for Sepke to make a name for himself and the program.
Quote: "We are doing everything we can to turn the Hobart program around and be more competitive in the region. We have a lot of talent on this team, and I think we will surprise some people this year.” !~ Foddrill
Athletes to watch: Frank Lapota, Sr., breast; Trevor Shelhart, Sr., diving; Cameron Johnson, Sr., sprints.
Outlook: Coach Dan Roberts has 22 swimmers out, the most in a few years. Graduation left him with a few holes to fill, so mixing and matching is still in process.
Quote: "We have a very good foundation, and we need to build on that.” !~ Roberts
Athletes to watch: Tyler Morgan, Jr., fly, IM; Zack Wakefield, Sr., back; Jeff Potat, Sr., distance.
Outlook: Hit hard by graduation, coach Kelly Hurst hopes to keep the team record the same as last year as the younger swimmers learn the ropes.
Quote: "We have several newcomers, and a few experienced swimmers who can help the team grow. We want to get the team to the point where they feel the season was a success.” !~ Hurst
Athletes to watch: Wilson Beckman, So., back; Joe Gardner, So., breast; Seth Weston, Sr., Logan Armagast, Sr., Sam Odtallah, Sr.
Outlook: Twenty-seven consecutive sectional titles have not taken away the Seahorses’ hunger. Challenged by Lake Central last season, Munster responded in a big way. Coach Matt Pavlovich has used that as a motivation tool this season, and the team is swimming with a chip on their shoulders.
Quote: "They have the ability to improve at a very fast rate, and take their swimming to a much-higher level. It will depend if their effort matches their talent. They could do some really big things this year.” !~ Pavlovich