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Third time’s the charm

The boys swim team is coming off their second consecutive state championship and are looking to repeat as champions for the third year in a row and join boys basketball, boys tennis, boys soccer and girls track as the only other West High teams to accomplish this feat.

The Coralville Recreation Center begins to fill up with a swarm of high school boys around 4:15 every day. The swim team files in and prepares for another day of practice. 

This year’s team, however, has two empty spots in their top lane during practice. Aidan Keen ’16 and Mark McGlaughlin ’16 will not be practicing with the team this year. Instead, the boys will practice with their club swim team, IFLY, in order to train for the 2016 Olympic Trials.

Keen qualified in the 200 freestyle and McGlaughlin qualified in the 50 and 100 freestyle and the 100 backstroke. 

“[I’ll practice] a couple mornings a week so I stay eligible [for high school swimming], but train mostly with IFLY to stay in shape for trials coming up this summer, and also to see if that helps achieve something the really lofty goals [coach] Miecznikowski has for me,” Keen said. “He definitely wants me to get the state record in the 200 [freestyle].”

Keen and McGlaughlin will only be competing in some away meets during their regular dual meet season. However, with the work the team is putting in at practice, they aren’t worried about points during the dual meets.

“Mark and I are pretty big point scorers, but it’s not up to me just Mark and me, it requires the whole team,” Keen said. “I mean, we’ll probably lose a few points, but overall the team shouldn’t be affected that much.”

Head coach Miecznikowski said the coaches are looking towards the middle of the pack to make up for lost points in away meets, and to prepare for the bigger meets and invites.

“We’re a little deeper than we were last year,” he said. “Our second tier guys are a lot stronger coming back.”

McGlaughlin said it’s exciting to see how the team has improved from last year, especially the underclassmen and junior varsity swimmers.

“All the younger swimmers are getting really fast,” he said. “Even posting personal bests in practice, which is crazy. It’s awesome, everyone’s working really hard and I think it’ll come together.”

Assistant coach Byron Butler is working with these swimmers to improve on technique and endurance, which he said will hopefully translate to more points in meets.

“For the most part the state level talent is back,” he said. “Another strength for us is the fact that the guys have been right in the middle of the pack have improved over this year. They’ve gotten stronger, spent more time in the water and are in better physical condition.”

Miecznikowski said one reason the team is so successful is the emphasis put on working together on all levels of the team, whether it be with junior varsity or the elite swimmers.

“West High swim team is just about that. Team,” he said. “Everybody has a spot and we rely on everybody. That’s what makes us a competitive program.”

McGlaughlin said it’s encouraging to see the team as a whole working hard and setting high standards for this season.

“I think is really exciting and it means good things for the future of the team,” he said.

As for Keen, he is focused on training hard and having fun with the team his last year. He said he’s looking forward to the winter break practices with the team.

“We’re just a fun-loving group of guys,” he said. “But we’re also very focused and we’re going to do great things at state.”

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Third time’s the charm