MARSHALLTOWN, Ia. — Cheering atop the state boys’ swimming championship victory stand is a thrill.
Twice? Even better.
Waukee won its second consecutive team title Saturday at the Marshalltown YMCA/YWCA. The Warriors topped runner-up Johnston, 259 to 191, which was double its victory margin of last season.
“I’ve been training with these guys since age 8,” said senior Zach Linder, who won the 100- and 200-yard freestyle. “To step on that podium two times, it’s a dream come true.”
Linder took the 100 in 45.81 seconds and the 200 in 1:40.72. Teammate Jackson Kuhlers, another senior, won the butterfly in 50.11.
“We’ve all been practicing really hard in previous seasons just for one last high school year,” Kuhlers said.
Waukee took second in all three relays, the 200 and 400 freestyle and the 200 medley. Seniors Linder, Kuhlers, Grady Rogers and Gus Muenzenmay capped the meet in the 400 freestyle relay.
Johnston won two relays; the 200 and 400 freestyle events. Grant Fuhr, twins Scott and Grant Lair and Alex Overton combined to finish first in both races.
“I’ve always been wanting to be on top that podium since I was a little kid,” Fuhr said.
Six CIML teams placed in the top 10: Waukee and Johnston, plus fifth-place Dowling Catholic, sixth-place Ames, seventh-place Ankeny and eighth-place Valley. The league talent helped the swimmers improve.
“When you’ve got people next to you, pushing you, it makes you faster,” Fuhr said. “It makes the meet so much fun to race against them.”
Bettendorf placed third, led by triple-winner Caleb Aman, the meet’s outstanding swimmer. The junior won the backstroke, the individual medley and swam a leg on the 200 medley relay.
“We just came here with the intention for swimming fast,” Aman said. “I’m definitely looking ahead to next year and doing well again and getting more people out for our team.”
Dalton Lillibridge lives in Marshalltown, but transferred to Ames High School to pursue his dream of being a state champ. He had to sit out 90 days due to state eligibility rules and commuted to school 90 minutes each day. The junior left home at 4:45 a.m. to reach 5:30 a.m. swimming practice at Ames.
“I put in all the work, all the driving,” Lillibridge said. “I accomplished my high school goal.”
Cedar Falls freshman Dylan Moffatt won the 500 freestyle, swimming the seventh-fastest state championship time in 4:32.24. He had wondered if he could become a four-time state champ in the future.
“It’s been going through (my mind) a lot,” Moffatt said. “It’s nerve-wracking.”
No one has ever won that race four times.
Iowa City West’s Oliver Martin, a Michigan football recruit, won the 50 freestyle. He juggled a lengthy football season and recruiting trips while trying to keep his swimming skills sharp.
“I’m really happy that I was able to win the 50, it’s about one of the only events I can do right now, with as little training I do, but it’s a really fun race,” Martin said. “It’s all about speed, confidence, just getting in and going as hard as I can.”
Martin will attend the same college as Olympic legend Michael Phelps did, but will concentrate on a different sport.
“It is pretty cool that one of the best swimmers of all time went to Michigan for a little bit, but you know, I went there for football reasons.” Martin said.