Twenty laps and about six minutes later, Lake Forest Academy's Philbert Tong climbed out of the pool, clearly exhausted.
Tong had just participated in the grueling 500-meter freestyle event Jan. 15 at the Midwest Swim Invite at LFA. Tong finished in first place, the Caxys lone blue ribbon in any event with a time of 5:57.82.
However, Tong was not impressed with his performance. “I was kind of sloppy; it’s not my best time in that race,” said Tong. “I’ve been out of shape, but I am pleased with myself.”
But first year Caxys coach Eric Turner liked what he saw from Tong. “It was our first meet, but he did well for how early it is in the season,” Turner said.
Tony has proven before that it's not how you start out, but how you finish. Last year, Tong set a Caxys record in the 500-meter freestyle with a mind-boggling time of 5:51.07.
Training for an event of this magnitude requires intense workouts. Tong works on his skills constantly, owing most of his success to the endurance tests given by Turner.
“Coach gives us endurance tests where you have to do a fly in the middle of 200’s,” said Tong. “It helps your endurance because it helps me in my 500 free.”
Results were not as important at this juncture of the season as much as where improvement must come.
“I think it’s more of the little things we have to fix, like two hand touches with fly and breaststroke that we didn’t really do. We can improve on that very easily,” Tong said.
Added Turner, “We have to go back in practice and work on some of those techniques and some other little things, and we should be fine.”
Wayland Academy dominated the team standings with 146 points by sweeping the top two spots in nearly every event. Kiski (Penn.) followed with 77 points, LFA had 71, and St. John’s Northwestern School tallied 37.