When the season began, Lake Forest High School's boys' swim team focused its training effort for the State meet slated the last weekend in February.
However, the Scouts have to conquer Saturday's 1 p.m. Sectional at Vernon Hills in order to make State the real moment of truth.
Without a strong sectional performance, the state meet will lose much of its luster. Three Scouts have registered times below the state qualifying standard in four races. More are close in five events. Two relay teams are also near the required clocking.
“This is the most important meet of the season. They have one chance to make it (to the State Meet),” said Scouts coach Cindy Dell. “They have to be mentally tough.”
Dell hopes the Scouts take first or second place as a team in the sectionals. “That’s our goal,” she said.
Bryan Bunning has already surpassed the qualifying standard in the 100-yard butterfly and 100 backstroke. Peter Grumhaus is there for the 500 freestyle and less than a tenth of a second away in the 100 backstroke.
With Grumhaus beginning his taper for State, Dell is confident he will qualify in both events.
Davis Malone has also swum the necessary standard in the 500 freestyle on more than one occasion, and is four seconds off the pace in the 200 freestyle. Dell believes Malone has the mental toughness to shave the necessary seconds.
“He’s so tough I can’t imagine he won’t get it,” said Dell. “He never messes up. He fights through pain. He fights through illness. He’s 100 percent mentally ready.”
Colin Rowe has less than a second to eclipse from his times in the 50 and 100 freestyle to qualify for State. Peter McCormick is within striking distance of qualifying for state in the 200 freestyle and 100 butterfly.
Diver Andrew Marsh is also knocking on the door of a qualifying berth, according to Dell. “We haven’t had a diver at state in five years,” she said.
Dell also expects the 200 medley and 400 freestyle relay teams of Bunning, Grumhaus, Malone and Rowe to reach State. Less than a second drop is necessary in the medley relay, while almost a five second drop is required in the 400 freestyle relay.
Rowe chose to fully taper for the Sectional to improve his chances of reaching state. Dell believes that decision may make the difference to put the 400 relay team in the State finals.
“They’re ready mentally,” Dell said of her swimmers. “They’ve done everything they can in the pool and they have done all their (weight) lifting. If they leave nothing in the pool, they will achieve. No guts no glory. They have to know it and believe it.”