St. Xavier High School’s swim team has, for a long time, held the state podium in a stranglehold. The Bombers have cultivated and sustained one of the most impressive programs the area has ever seen.
Last season, St. Xavier won its seventh consecutive Division I state championship (36th all-time) and the Bombers return buses full of top-tier talent in the water.
The Bombers also rotated the coaching carousel this year. Longtime head coach Jim Brower moved from the head position to an assistant, to make way for former assistant Tim Beerman to take over as head coach. Beerman was previously a head coach at Ursuline Academy.
“It’s worth mentioning that this team is 100 members strong and while we certainly can point to some of our tops swimmers at the state level,” Beerman said, “the focus of the team is really about helping everyone discover and reach the potential they have.”
Junior Grant House is without question the fastest swimmer in state. House has already won four individual state championships (two as a freshman, two as a sophomore), and he’s helped on a number of state championship relay teams. Last year, he won the 100 and 200 freestyle races at state.
Senior Matt Slabe, also an individual state qualifier, swam on the 400 freestyle relay team that won a state title last year. Junior Luke Sobolewski’s another experienced swimmer who won a state title on the 200 medley relay last year. Junior Charles Leibson was an individual state qualifier in two races last year, and just finished helping the Bombers win a water polo state championship. Sophomore Justin Grender was another difference maker at state last year, as was sophomore Nicholas Perera.
Beerman has also been very impressed by freshman Jake Foster.
“They’re just now learning how good they can really be,” said Beerman. “Their effort level is off the charts in terms of what we’re asking of them. It is a talented team, but we’re excited to see how far that talent can take us as a team. We certainly hope with good health and good training that we can return to state and do well. There are any number of individuals (outside of the swimmers mentioned above) on this team who can contribute to our success.”
Finneytown’s boys swim team is working to improve in the water this season. The Wildcats didn’t have the best season a year ago, but another year of experience means Finneytown will have an opportunity to improve its times lost season.
Coach Bill Profitt who also coaches Winton Woods’ swimmers likes the camaraderie of his group. The boys are led by four underclassmen in junior Izzak Cruz, junior Tyler Rasp, junior Ian Esslinger and sophomore Hunter Figgs.
For the last quarter century, La Salle swim coach Mike Lienhart has been the swim coach for the Lancers. In his 25th season, Lienhart has another experienced and talented lineup that could cut through the water for the podium this season.
But, to do that, La Salle will have to replace some key swimmers.
“We graduated seven seniors who had major impacts on varsity,” said Lienhart, who added there are only 21 boys on the roster this year and seven of those are again seniors.
The Lancers return four districts qualifiers from last season in senior Ethan Stock, junior Anthony Hale, junior David Orth and sophomore Cole Trotta, who trains year round in the sport.
“The largest class on the team is seniors (seven), whom have all had varsity swimming experience,” said Lienhart.
La Salle also has experienced contributors returning in sophomore Daniel Nader, senior Cameron Nichols, senior Randall Ellis, senior Alex Houser, senior Aaron Keller, senior Daniel Lepsky and senior Sam Moore.
Lienhart said his team has already exhibited a “very positive work ethic and determination.” For the Lancers to have a strong season, “many untested underclassmen are going to have to fill varsity roles,” said Lienhart.
The Lancers have big meets on Dec. 2 against Oak Hills, Dec. 15 at the Best of the West meet, and the Greater Catholic League meet Feb. 3.
If the plan is to build off what Roger Bacon’s boys swimmers accomplished last year, then the Spartans could be in for a season that runs all the way to the final weekend.
Last year’s team seemed to turn it on for the postseason, and fourth-year coach Ben Stone hopes that’s the case again this year. Stone’s squad gets a great glimpse of top competition all season in the Greater Catholic League Coed, which usually has his bunch prepared.
Roger Bacon’s top returner is senior Drew Suffoletta, who was a district qualifier last season in two individual events and two relays.
“He has the best shot at making state for us,” said Stone. “Last year he swam 50 and 100 free and was extremely close to making state (in both those races). Our 200 and 400 free relays should have a good shot also.”
Stone added that the two relays only missed state by a few spots and only one swimmer graduated from those relays. Stone’s said there’s currently six guys competing for the four relay spots, and it’s a close competition.