The Estero girls’ swimming team is entering the 2015 season facing a brand new set of challenges.
The Wildcats, along with former District 2A-10 foe Naples, will be moving to a tougher district that features state contenders Gulf Coast and Fort Myers.
Estero will also have to acclimate quickly to the style of new head coach Tim Jacobson.
But the team is returning most of the swimmers from last year’s Class 2A fifth-place finish squad and many of the Wildcats are already familiar with Jacobson through USA Swimming.
This familiarity is what the team hopes will give them a strong chance to compete for a title in the team’s first year in District 3A-9 and take them back to the state meet.
“There are a lot of swimmers on this team who have the desire to win,” Jacobson said. “They are working hard and trying to realize that desire of going back to states.”
Estero will be bolstered with the return of swimmers Kaitlyn Hauser and Bean Faunce. Hauser, a senior, placed second in the Class 2A meet in the 200 freestyle and Faunce, a junior, finished fifth in the 100 butterfly. They have taken on new leadership roles that have benefited the team significantly.
“They both bring a lot of leadership to the table,” Jacobson said. “Hauser was elected as team captain by her teammates this year and has wanted that role. She’s been there, and she knows what it takes. That passion is what it takes to lead us to states.
“Bean is much more of a quiet leader, but her actions in the pool set the tone for the rest of the team.”
Despite Jacobson being a first-year head coach, the Wildcat swimmers have rallied around him because of prior experiences. As a former USA swimming official for seven years, Jacobson knows many of the athletes through interactions in the club.
Estero will be tested early this year by Gulf Coast and Fort Myers. The Sharks finished in second place as a team in last year’s Class 3A meet and the Green Wave will be returning The News-Press All-Area Swimmer of the Year Kendall Brent.
But the Wildcats remain confident they will succeed in District 3A-9.
“We’re not preparing any differently,” Jacobson said. “It is a definite jump in competition, but I feel very good about where our upperclassmen are leading us through Class 3A.
“It’ll be a challenge, but as I look at the way the team finished at states, I’m very confident in the way they look and how they’ll play this year.”
Contenders: Charlotte, Barron Collier, Naples
Sleepers: Fort Myers, Gulf Coast
Swimmers to watch: Hans Schroeder (Sr., Charlotte), Daniel Young (Sr., Fort Myers), Matt Lucker (Jr., Fort Myers), George Rodriguez (Sr., Riverdale), Shawn Lemarie (Sr., Naples).
Outlook: Look for Charlotte to remain on top this year in District 3A-9 with the return of 2014 100-yard backstroke champion Hans Schroeder. Barron Collier will also compete after finishing at the 2014 Class 3A state meet in 12th place. New District 3A-9 member Naples, the eighth-place finisher in the Class 2A meet, will shake things up. The Golden Eagles bring with them senior state champion Shawn Lemarie, who was the 500 Freestyle champ in Class 2A last season. Senior Daniel Young and junior Matt Lucker will bring experience to the Green Wave. The Raiders are also seasoned this year with the return of senior George Rodriguez.
Contenders: Cape Coral, Port Charlotte
Sleepers: Cypress Lake
Swimmers to watch: Jonah Martinez (Jr., Cape Coral), Wayne Bilancione (Sr., Cape Coral), Cannon Kopec (Sr., Cypress Lake).
Outlook: The Seahawks are without 2014 The News-Press All-Area Boys Swimmer of the Year finalists Cory Klemm and Jason Tillotson, but the team will look to junior Jonah Martinez, who placed 13th in the 2014 Class 2A state meet in the 50 freestyle, and Wayne Bilancione to be the leaders. With the loss of powerhouse Naples from the district, look for Cape Coral and Port Charlotte to fight for the district title. Don’t sleep on Cypress Lake, who will be fielding a team of mostly seniors. The Panthers look to use that experience to give them a shot at a District 2A-10 championship.
Contenders: Bishop Verot, CSN
Sleepers: SFCA, Oasis
Swimmers to watch: Santi Corredor (Jr., Bishop Verot), Stas Van Genderen (Jr., Bishop Verot), Matthew Strickland (Soph., Bishop Verot), Joshua Harriott (Sr., SFCA), Michael Walch (Jr., Oasis).
Outlook: Bishop Verot will be returning a stellar team with state finals experience that includes junior Santi Corredor, who won the Class A state championship in the 500 freestyle. The Vikings will also be bolstered with the return of 2014 The News-Press All-Area first-teamers Stas Van Genderen and Matthew Strickland. Despite having a talented team, Bishop Verot will face stiff competition for the District A-9 title with Community School of Naples, which placed 6th in the Class A state meet. SFCA will also be strong this year with the return of senior Joshua Harriott. Harriott placed 13th in the 100 butterfly at states last season.
Contenders: Gulf Coast, Estero, Fort Myers
Sleepers: Barron Collier, Riverdale, Naples
Swimmers to watch: Kendall Brent (Sr., Fort Myers), Kayla Tennant (Jr., Gulf Coast), Kaitlyn Hauser (Sr., Estero), Bean Faunce (Jr., Estero), Lizzy White (Sr., Riverdale), Alex Griffith (Sr., Fort Myers).
Outlook: It’ll be tough for a team to qualify for states with the strength in District 3A-9. Gulf Coast returns a strong team a year after placing second in the Class 3A meet. The Sharks return 2014 100-yard butterfly state champion Kayla Tennant. The Green Wave return senior leadership in Kendall Brent, who placed second in the 200 freestyle at the Class 3A state meet, and Alex Griffith. Along with Naples, the 2014 District 2A-10 champion and fifth-place Class 2A state finisher, Estero brings talent to the district as they move to District 3A-9. Senior Kaitlyn Hauser, who placed second in the Class 2A 200 freestyle final, and junior Bean Faunce will give Estero the opportunity to compete for a district title.
Contenders: Cape Coral, North Fort Myers
Sleepers: Island Coast, Cypress Lake
Swimmers to watch: Megan Galbreath (Sr., Cape Coral), Savannah Bowser (Sr., Cape Coral), Hannah Gatof (Soph., Cypress Lake), Becca Hays (Sr., North Fort Myers), Vanessa Rua (Soph., North Fort Myers), Makenna Lauterbach (Sr., Island Coast).
Outlook: Look for Cape Coral to be at the top of the district a year after finishing in eighth place at the Class 2A state meet. The Seahawks will return 2014 The News-Press All-Area Swimmer of the Year finalist Megan Galbreath, who placed second in the Class 2A state meet in diving, and Savannah Bowser. North Fort Myers is entering the year hoping for its fourth winning season in a row. Look for the Red Knights to accomplish this feat with the return of senior Becca Hays. Island Coast has a small team, but will look to surprise with senior Makenna Lauterbach, who is the Gators’ first four-year letter winner and holds four individual school records and three relay records.
Contenders: CSN, Bishop Verot
Sleepers: Oasis, Canterbury
Swimmers to watch: Flo Almada (Sr., Bishop Verot), Karen Liu (Soph., CSN), Mary Hess (Jr., Oasis), Laney Bloch (Fr., Oasis).
Outlook: Community School of Naples and Bishop Verot look to be on top of District A-9 once again after finishing 18th and 25th, respectively, at the Class A state meet. The Seahawks return seasoned sophomore Karen Liu, who took sixth in the Class A 200 IM final. Flo Almada is back for the Vikings, who was named to the 2014 News-Press All-Area First Team after taking 11th in the Class A state meet in the 500 freestyle. Oasis is stronger team this year after last year’s sixth-place finish at the District A-9 meet. The Sharks will be bolstered with the return of junior Mary Hess and the contributions of talented freshman Laney Bloch.