When the Ankeny boys’ swimming team hosted a dual meet against Dowling Catholic on Thursday, the event was more of a family reunion than a matchup between fierce rivals.
The dual meet provided another opportunity for Ankeny coach Justin Crouch to go up against his father Mark’s Dowling squad, the No. 3 team in the state. The Maroons won nine of the 11 events and rolled to a 104-66 victory at the YMCA pool.
“It’s always fun to race against teams that you know really well,” said Justin Crouch, whose squad dropped to 3-3 on the season. “You develop relationships with people, and it’s fun to race them to see where you stack up. Obviously, they’re one of the best teams in the state, and they deserve a lot of credit for that.”
The two teams are very familiar with each other. Brothers Peyton and Ryan Gaumer are Ankeny residents who compete for the Maroons.
Peyton won the 100 butterfly in a time of 55.14 seconds, then later captured the 100 breaststroke in 1:01.66.
“Swimming against Ankeny was a fun meet because I have a lot of friends on the Ankeny team and Coach Crouch coached me in middle school,” said Peyton Gaumer. “I was rooting for guys on both teams to swim well, and I was thrilled to see Brady Suby back in the pool after breaking his hand (last month).”
Suby and Jeff Hyler were two of the four Ankeny swimmers honored on Senior Night. They are both longtime teammates of Gaumer on the Ankeny YMCA Aquahawks.
“Peyton and I are really good friends,” Hyler said. “We swam together on a lot of relays. It’s just so much fun to race against Dowling, because they’re a good team. We just try to have fun and make the most of it.”
The fun included an exchange of words before the meet.
“There was definitely some trash talk between my Ankeny friends and me, but it was all in a friendly way,” Gaumer said. “The Ankeny team has guys I swam with and was in Boy Scouts with. I hope everyone on the Ankeny team swims fast because they are a great group of guys.”
The Hawks got off to a good start, winning the 200 medley relay in a time of 1:43.07. The team consisted of Hyler, John Breen, Will Martin and Zach Deaton.
Hyler later placed second in the 100 freestyle in 52.93. He then won the 100 backstroke in 56.66.
“I was actually really surprised with my 100 back,” Hyler said. “That was my best time of the season, and it’s only a second off my best time ever. And I went 26.4 in the medley, which is another good time for this point of the season.”
Breen placed second in the 200 individual medley in 2:07.11. He was the runner-up in the breaststroke with a time of 1:03.87.
The Hawks also got second-place finishes from Connor Neils in the 200 freestyle (1:52.96), Deaton in the 50 freestyle (23.48) and Martin in the butterfly (56.51). Deaton and Neils later joined Camden Cox and Suby on the second-place 200 freestyle relay.
“The effort has been great all year,” Crouch said. “The times are coming down to where we want them to be, but we still have a lot of work to do.”
Dowling sophomore Nolan Larson won both the 50 and 500 freestyle events. He also swam on the winning 200 and 400 freestyle relays.
“Our goal was to keep them under 100 points, and we didn’t do it,” Hyler said. “But they’re probably the best team in the state, and we battled them pretty well. Usually we lose to them by a lot, but we kept it pretty close, and that was probably our best meet of the year.”
Afterwards, Hyler and fellow seniors Jakob Pyburn, Colton Schnepf and Suby celebrated their strong performances by tossing their coach into the pool.
“It started as a tradition a couple of years ago when we won districts as a team,” Crouch said. “They threw me in, and ever since then I said I’d do it on Senior Night. But once a season is enough.”