10 boys, seven girls advance to district swim meet

Amanda Salgado
The Aurora High School boys and girls swim teams.

Each Aurora swimmer has a prophetic tag on their swim bags that has become a mantra for the team. It reads “When you can’t control what’s happening, challenge yourself to control how you respond to what’s happening. That is where your power is.”

This lesson will serve this group well long after the chlorine smell has left their memories. Several swimmers have had to take this to heart this season. One particular senior, Collin Sapochetti, was scheduled to swim at sectionals but his swimming days for the Greenmen were cut short due to being exposed to someone with COVID. Earlier in the season, his sister was scheduled to swim but cut her finger. Other Greenmen swimmers also overcame personal obstacles and quarantines to make this one of the strongest swim teams in the area.

Sapochetti has stayed positive, saying, "with a pandemic happening I was surprised that we even had a season. I am very proud of what our team has achieved this year with all of the regulations we had to follow and the setbacks that occurred. It’s been a great team to be a part of over the past four years and I know they’ll give it their all at the tournament meets.”

The mantra from coaches Sarah Gellott and Kelley Smth kept the team focused as the Greenmen rolled into Ellen Shapiro Natatorium with one thought in mind — win!

All of the hard work, late nights and dryland workouts paid off this past weekend as the Green Wave crashed into the sectional with a vengeance. The Greenmen boys attacked first on Friday and took charge of the swim lanes. Led by juniors Conner Zamary and Nate Ruehr the Greenmen flexed their muscle by qualifying in every event for the district.

On Saturday, the second wave in the form of the Greenmen girls hit the natatorium. Seven girls have extended their seasons by qualifying for the district meet. Led all season by senior diver Victoria Blechschmid, the perennial powerhouse who is always money in the bank, secured a platform at the district meet with a ninth-place finish at the sectional meet.

This swim season has come with its share of challenges for the whole team such as lack of home pool, at the mercy of home team schedules, shortened season and COVID-19 restrictions just to name a few. The team is fortunate to have two very dedicated coaches to keep things running smoothly. 

It came as no surprise for this close-knit group of swimmers that one of the highlights of the meet was when the team found out that coach Kelley Smith could attend the girls meet on Saturday since she was unable to attend the boys meet due to limited attendance.

"It was so awesome to see the girls swim and be there in person to share in the excitement of their success," said Coach Smith. "I felt so bad for not being able to be there in person for the boys meet. I wrote them all good luck notes and watched the meet on Livestream all day while sending lots of congratulatory texts but it still wasn’t the same.”

Leadership has been an important component this season. Two individuals that personally took on the mantle were Mackenzie (Mack) Roy and Brooklyn Duguay. They tirelessly sent out reminder texts, kept everyone on schedule, but more importantly, they helped mentor the underclassmen.

"We are completely overwhelmed with pride for this team and what they’ve accomplished this year," said Coach Gellott. "Despite our crazy unprecedented year, the team never once gave up on both their individual and team goals. Our team overcame a delayed start, time trials, virtual dryland practices, quarantines and 8-10 p.m. practices to prove they are postseason quality. We look forward to taking 10 boys and seven girls to districts. They truly represent the heart of a champion!”

The sectional tournament was a success both in district qualifiers and in personal records for many of the swimmers.

"Coach G and I were in awe at how great the kids looked in the water and I think it’s safe to say every swimmer had a new personal record in at least one event which is impressive with our crazy season and a lot less pool time," said Coach Smith. "Every swimmer who had to be quarantined still dropped time after being back in the pool for only a week.”

You can follow the team’s nautical journey on Twitter @AHS_SwimDive

The following swimmers from the boys team will advance to the district tournament next weekend:

200 Medley Relay: No. 3, Jacob Good, Jon Hybil, Connor Zamary and Nate Ruehr (1:41.82 new PR)

200 Free: No. 27, Nate New (1:57.69 new PR)

200 IM: No. 5, Connor Zamary (2:01.29 new PR), No. 15 Jacob Good (2.10.21)

50 Free: No. 22, Nate Ruehr (23.67)

100 Fly: No. 1, Connor Zamary (52.68), No. 27 Nate New (1:01.67), No. 30 Andy Ploskunak (1:01.89) (all new PR’s)

100 Free: No. 11, Jon Hybil (50.88), No. 28 Nate Ruehr (53.12)

500 Free: No. 17, Max Bailey (5:15.56), No. 26 Andy Ploskunak (5:38.66)

200 Free Relay: No. 1 Jacob Good, Jon Hybil, Nate Ruehr and Connor Zamary (1:31.45)

100 Back: No. 10 Jacob Good (57.20)

100 Breast: No. 9 Jon Hybil (1:04.88), No. 13 Max Bailey (1:06.87), No. 30 Chase Nessel (1:13.04)

400 Free Relay: No. 15, Meyer, New, Bailey, Shanholtzer (3:48.02)

The following swimmers from the girls team will advance to the district tournament next weekend:

200 Free Relay: No. 17, Annalise Bender, Alayna Brooker, Annabelle Zamary and Mack Roy (1:58.73 )

200 Free: No. 39, Kyleigh Roche (2:09.61)

200 IM: No. 15, Brooker (2:19.44)

50 Free: No. 34, Roy (26.64), No. 36, Zamary (26.65)

100 Breast: No. 5, Brooker (1:07.49)

400 Free Relay: No. 19, Bender, Zamary, Roche, Ollie Salgado (4:01.40 and new PR)

The season was capped off with the following girls recording PR’s this past week in the meet:

100 Breaststroke: Brooker 1:07.59, Lovell 1:17.83, McVicker 1:21.87, Schiopota 1:30.80

200 Free Relay: 1:49.02, DeVincentis, Roy, Brooker, McVicker

100 Backstroke: Roche 1:08.99, Lutkus 1:13.66, Chmielewski 1:13.66, Schmitt 1:14.00

500 Free: Salgado 6:06.53, Sapochetti 6:12.38, Case 6:18.80, Duguay 6:33.35

200 IM: Brooker 2:19.44, Bender 2:33.34, Lutkus 2:40.04, DeVincentis 2:48.13

200 Free: Roche 2:09.61, Salgado 2:15.49, Case 2:21.79, Yuhasz 2:23.49

New personal records for the boys team:

500 Freestyle: Bailey 5:15.56, Ploskunak 5:38.27, Aardema 5:56.70, Porter broke 6 minutes and shaved 30 seconds off his time

50 free: New 23.67, Markowitz 26.55, Mulvaney 27.54, Garcia 28.44

200 free: Meyer 2:03.19, Aardema 2:09.59, Shanholtzer 2:10.49

100 Breaststroke: Hybil 1:04.59, Bailey 1:06.87, Nessel 1:13.04, Dani 1:27.31

100 Backstroke: Good 57.20, Meyer1:05.68, Roy 1:09.05, Markowitz 1:10.74