Swim team wins State for the second year in a row

Maite Napoliello

This year, history was made by the swim team as it achieved its most successful season ever. At State Feb. 19-20, the girls won first place and the boys were first runner up, with a combined first place win two years in a row for the program.

“The program has reached the pinnacle for the state,” boys head coach Steve Navarro said. “We just need to keep reinforcing our team philosophies and core values to keep the program where it is now.”

Throughout the year, the swimmers dedicated themselves to practicing and improving in their events. They trained and worked out to get those crucial seconds shaved off of their times that allowed them to beat the competition and place at the top of big meets. Over the course of the season, the team also had bonding activities so they work together outside of the pool as well as at meets.

“A lot of our kids swim club and participate on the school team,” girls head coach Alison Soelter said. “On average, they have nine and 10 practices a week before and after school for two hours.”

At the vital qualifier meets leading up to State, the swimmers were competing well. At District, the boys and girls both came in first place with a total of 384 points — a big lead on the second place team, Lake Travis, who had a score of 242. At the Region meet, Westlake came out on top yet again with another win.

Leading into State, the girls team was seeded to lose by 10 points but instead won first place with a total of 267 points, 48 points above the second place team, Woodlands High School. Juniors Victoria Edwards, Catriona MacGregor, Maggie Taylor and sophomore Dakota Luther set a new meet record in the 200 Medley Relay, and the girls team made it to finals in all but one of the events they swam in. Dakota placed first in the 200 freestyle and the 500 freestyle. Victoria won the 100 butterfly and was named Female Swimmer of the Meet. This is the girls’ third year in a row winning State — only three other schools in Texas have done that.

“Getting to stand on the first place podium really makes you realize that hard work pays off,” Maggie said.

The boys made lots of improvement from their previous year at State. They jumped from fourth place to second as well as shaving lots of time off of their events, making it the best season the boys had in 10 years. Sophomore Matthew Willenbring won the State Championship in breaststroke and broke four team records this year. Senior Nick Carlson and junior Will Thomas broke team records this season as well. Matthew, Nick and juniors Kevin Fang and Jack Dunworth won the 400 freestyle relay, breaking the State record and ranking second in the nation. Senior JC Engel, Kevin, Matthew and sophomore Miguel Velasquez got third in the 200 medley relay. Matthew, Kevin, Nick and Jack got second in the 400 freestyle relay.

“I feel great about this season,” Miguel said. “The team did fantastic. The goal is to win State, but I would also say to have fun and just enjoy swimming.”