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Men’s swimming finishes fifth in state

Men’s swimming finishes fifth in state

The Titans men’s swim team wrapped up their 2013-14 season by taking fifth place in state. Their finish was an improvement from their 18th place finish from the previous year.

The Titans championship season took a tumultuous turn, according to freshman Sam Iida, when head coach Keith MacDonald had to leave the team due to a detached retina. MacDonald, who was replaced by assistant coach David Lieberman, was unable to attend the sectional and state meets.

“Just knowing [Coach MacDonald] wouldn’t be there had [an] effect on us,” Iida said. “[The team] didn’t really have the mental aspect of him being there and watching us…that was a little hard. The seniors really stepped it up.”

Lieberman said that the immediate impact of a coaching change may have had a little bit of an effect on the team, but the overall transition was smooth.

“I think a couple guys were nervous a little bit at first,” Lieberman said. “I told them right away, ‘I’m not changing anything, I’m in constant contact with Coach MacDonald.’ I think the seniors took real ownership of what was happening at that point too. They really took control of the team.”

According to Iida, the transition from MacDonald to Lieberman was smooth due to the amount of time that the two coaches have been coaching together.

“[Lieberman] knows how the practices work,” Iida said. “He has gone to the state meet with [MacDonald] for quite a few [years]. Really nothing [has] changed.”

After overcoming the adversity of an unexpected coaching change, the Titans were able to compete in the state meet on Feb. 28 and March 1.

According to senior captain Jake Nelson, the team was able to finish right where they wanted to.

“Our goal for the season was to get in the top five, hopefully [come in the top three], but all the other teams swam great, so we couldn’t squeeze into the top three for a trophy,” Nelson said. “We swam pretty [well]. Some people had bad swims, but others had great swims, so they counteracted each other, so we were able to do just what we wanted to do.”

The Titans finished their season with a record of 7-1 in dual meets with their single loss coming from the meet against New Trier. Junior Jon Salomon believes the team had a very successful season and had plenty of highlights.

“Getting fifth in state was one of the highest we have gotten in a couple years,” Salomon said. “The Evanston invite getting second, that was a pretty big thing. Then there was some individual success, [senior] Kevin Benson getting a top six and a top 12 in his events and then Sam Iida, really young, but he got top six in the 500, and that was really big for him.”

Nelson also said that this season had its fair share of highlights. The captain believing that their team’s consistent strength throughout the season allowed them to be successful.

“To start the season off at our first dual meet at Arrowhead [High School in Wisconsin], we [squeaked] out the win because it came down to the last relay,” Nelson said. “Just keeping a good streak and holding our own with New Trier [was] a good thing. I think that was pretty key to show how strong we were going to be at the end of the year.”

The Titans, however, did have some low points in their season, even at the state meet, according to Salomon.

“At the state meet, some of us, including me, didn’t do that great, and we just kept pushing through and tried to turn the meet around and gain more momentum,” Salomon said. “A lot of us had some individual goals of making top 12 or top six or getting a certain place, and some of those were achieved, but some of them weren’t, so that was a little disappointing.”

Next season, the Titans will be losing three important seniors with the departure of of captains Nelson, Benson and Seamus Heneghan, according to Salomon. However, Salomon believes that the team will be able to pick up right where they left off.

“Obviously, we’re going to have three really big seniors leaving,” Salomon said. “We’re still going to have one of the most experienced state teams returning so hopefully we do really well next year.”

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