Ithaca boys swimming has had a very impressive season and will be sending four individual swimmers and three relay teams to the state championships after winning the Class A Section IV championship at Watkins Glen.
This success caps off a tumultuous year that was marked by uncertainty in the coaching position for the first half of the season before Amy Zimmermann stepped into the coaching role, similar to what she did for Ithaca girls swimming last fall.
Without a steady presence until Zimmermann came in after Christmas, the Little Red were able to win three of four invitationals and all five of their dual meets leading up to this dominant performance at the Section IV Championships.
“It was a fragmented start to the season, but they stuck together,” Zimmermann said. “We have great leadership with our seniors and some of the younger guys who had been on the team for a while. They really stuck together and worked hard. They came together as a team at the end. It felt great. It was awesome.”
Despite a late start with the team, Zimmermann had early high expectations for the team, and they didn’t disappoint.
“I expected them to be successful, quite honestly,” Zimmermann said. “The coaching is important, the leadership is important, but when it comes down to it, it comes down to the kids. They have it within themselves, they want it, and they’re willing to work for it. They were very flexible, very adaptable, and they tried their best no matter the circumstances. They work hard.”
One of the most impressive parts of Ithaca’s performance at the Section IV Championship was having all three relay teams make the state qualifying cut. That indicates that this team has more than just talented individuals.
“Something that we support alongside fast swimming is character building,” Zimmermann said. “There’s only so much we can do as coaches. It’s really up to the kids when they’re the ones behind the block, when they’re the team of four, to get each other psyched up to swim the best they can - not only for themselves, but for the team. It really pushes them to be their best.”
Another motivating factor for the team was seeing the success of the girls swimming team last semester. The Little Red girls squad had a relay team place third at the state championships, and the boys carried that momentum into their season.
“The boys and girls team, they do have some consistency,” Zimmermann said. “They know each other from swimming outside the program. They’re very supportive of one another. We have boys coming to watch and helping with the girls meets. Same thing, the girls come and help out with the boys’ meets. We try to get them together a few times throughout the year so they can see each other’s successes and work hard to do the same for themselves.”
With state practices underway and their lineup set, the Ithaca swim team is preparing for the state championships on March 6 and 7 on Long Island.
Lansing also came away with a high level of success. While they will not be sending anyone to states, their fourth-place finish out of eight teams is a great one to build upon, considering the only senior on the roster this year was injured. As the only team at the Section IV Championships without a senior, coach Diane Hicks-Hughes commented on the determination of the Bobcats.
“We’re a very young team,” Hicks-Hughes said. “Going into it, I thought the boys did an excellent job. ... We had seven freshmen, seven sophomores and one junior. As a very young team, the boys did extremely well.”
Two individuals who stood out for Lansing were sophomores Alex Beimel and Xander Tavares. Beimel took home the sectional championship in the 50 yard freestyle, while Tavares won the 500 yard freestyle. They also teamed up for top three finishes in the medley and freestyle relays with teammates Zachary Hwang and Daniel Dedrick.
“I’m extremely proud of the boys,” Hickes-Hughes said. “Alex [Beimel] has only been swimming for two years. He’s done extremely well. Xander [Tavares] has been swimming a little bit longer competitively, but he did great in his events and I expect to see him go forward [in the future].”
With a team consisting of a strong core of underclassmen, the future is promising for Lansing. Even more so when considering their modified team had 21 members this season all moving through the pipeline to eventually make it to the varsity level. A fourth-place finish this year gives the Lansing swim team plenty of motivation heading into next season.
“Every year is different. Just knowing how excited the boys were with how they finished and how well they did during their season is going to encourage them to continue to go forward,” Hicks-Hughes said. “I would like to see the boys improve their times individually as well as their team unity. I want them to bring Lansing back to being one of the top swimming schools.”
Considering the overwhelming youth of Lansing swimming, the Bobcats could match the success of Ithaca in the coming years. The growth of the program will certainly be something to watch in future seasons.
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