DeKALB – Only a few weeks into this year’s swim season, Ryan Schultz and his medley relay teammates could sense that the relay could be something special.
In one of their first invitationals, the DeKalb-Sycamore swimming co-op almost equaled its season-best time from last year when Schultz, Dylan Powers, Daniel Hein and Marc Dubrick – who now is running cross country and track at Missouri – qualified for the state meet and finished 24th.
“We didn’t even think it was that good of a race at the time,” Schultz said. “So we were like, ‘We know now that we have something to build off of.’ ”
Now the relay, which has seen sophomore Holden Mackey take the place of Dubrick, heads into Saturday’s St. Charles North Sectional with much higher expectations than just a year ago.
Coach Leah Eames said all four are physically stronger and swimming faster individual splits than a year ago. Eames always likes to change lineups during the season, but made it a point to keep the medley relay together more often, especially during the bigger meets.
“They’re used to the relay transitions, they’re used to seeing how people swim and they’re used to feeding off of each other,” Eames said. “I wanted to give them as much practice as possible. From Day 1 this season, that was one of the end-of-the-season goals was to have that relay go far.”
Another season together also has fostered a better atmosphere, not only as a relay, but as a team in general.
“We’re all really close. All summer we trained together and we’re all a lot closer than we were,” Powers said. “This year we’re far closer than we’ve ever been, especially the varsity, all of the top varsity guys are all really close. These are like my brothers now.”
Although all four were fully tapered for the sectional meet last year, that won’t be the case heading into Saturday. Even though Eames always cautions against looking too far ahead because of the unpredictability with sectionals, the team is more confident that more swimmers will be able to qualify through to state while their training continues for an additional week, allowing swimmers to peak at state.
The relay broke the pool record at Huntley Middle School in DeKalb on senior night Jan. 31 and never lost a race during the regular season. It’s a streak the group hopes to keep in tact.
“We’re definitely excited about that. We don’t want to lose so we’re going to see how long we can keep that going, sectionals and even our prelim heat at state,” Schultz said. “We’re just going to go for it. It’s definitely good to have that momentum going.”