LAPORTE | It’s been awhile since any team besides Chesterton has won the Duneland Athletic Conference boys swimming and diving championship.
This was not the year that changed.
The Trojans won every swimming event at the meet Saturday en route to 536 points and their 17th conference title. Crown Point took second with 347 points, edging Valparaiso, which was third with 339 points.
The Vikings were followed by Lake Central (231), Michigan City (222), Portage (209), LaPorte (112) and Merrillville (85).
“It’s a tradition that we’re proud of,” Chesterton coach Kevin Kinel said. “We look forward to that, and we knew we had a chance to break some records today so we used that as a little bit of fuel, a little bit of motivation. I was real pleased.”
In fact, Chesterton broke three DAC records during the meet.
Junior Aaron Whitaker broke the 100 fly record last set by his older brother, Kyle, in 2010, with a time of 48.68 seconds – almost a full second better than the old record.
Aaron’s twin brother, Ethan, took over the 500 free record with a time of 4:40.85, taking down one of the longest standing DAC marks in the process. The previous record had been held by Chesterton’s Nick Oates (4:42.01) since 2004.
The third record of the day was set by Jack Wallar, who swam a season-best 57.63 in the 100 breast.
Kinel said Wallar’s swim was one of the best of the day.
“It’s either the state’s fastest time or it’s really close,” he said.
While Kinel said he was pleased to see his swimmers set new records, he noted that his team’s impressive day went well beyond those events.
He pointed to junior Patrick Curley winning the 200 IM (1:59.28) and the 100 free (48:12) as another strong performance.
“He’s really coming of age for us, and he’s going have to be a player at the state meet for us to have a chance down there,” Kinel said.
That sophomore Josh VanNevel and junior Jack Kurfman came in second and third respectively behind DAC champ Ethan Whitaker in the 200 free was also key, Kinel added.
He said depth Chesterton displayed Saturday could be an indicator of big things to come.
“We’re pretty deep,” Kinel said. “I don’t now of we’re deeper than (when the Trojans won back-to-back state titles in 2008 and ’09), but if we’re not, we’re awfully close. This might be the deepest team we’ve ever had.”
The one event the Trojans did not win, 1-meter diving, was dominated by LaPorte senior Josh Arndt, who shattered the prior DAC record of 528.80 with a score of 608.00. The performance earned Arndt meet MVP honors.
Slicers coach Bart Frank said the achievement was all the more impressive given that Arndt didn’t take up diving until he was a freshman. He will head to Indiana University to dive on a scholarship.
“He gave it a try and every year he has gotten better,” Frank said. “It’s been a storybook career.”