South, West find success in first year as swimming co-op
Still a work in progress, the Glenbard South-West co-op boys swimming team got off to a successful start this winter.
This marked the first season that the two schools joined forces, and the squad consisted of 13 athletes from Glenbard West and eight from Glenbard South.
"It worked out really well," said coach Chris Flamion, who coached the Glenbard West boys team a year ago and has also led the Glenbard South-West girls co-op team for the past three seasons. "It provides opportunities that wouldn't be there otherwise."
With a relatively young roster, which included only four seniors, the team showed drastic improvements from the first day to the Lyons Township sectional on Feb. 16.
"Because we are a cut sport," the coach said, "we had to run time trials out of the gate. Comparing the two times, it doesn't even look like the same team. I guess a comparison is like going from a pee-wee football team to a legitimate varsity sport and in only 14 weeks. If they come in next year in the same ballpark as they left in, we have the potential to be really good."
The team did not qualify anybody for last weekend's state meet but such recognition could be right around the corner.
"Obviously we are way behind the Hinsdales and Lyons Townships of the world," Flamion said. "But our kids found a way to be competitive. They swam really well at the sectional. They were trying to win their heats and we got a medal in the medley relay. That was nice, it says to the boys, 'Hey, we can do this.'"
Those improvements occurred even despite less than ideal facilities. The team practices in a four-lane, 23-yard (shorter than high school regulations) basement pool at the Terrace Tower in Oakbrook and as a result, had no home meets.
"The biggest issue is serious space limitations," Flamion said. "It's a small pool, the lanes are narrow. It limits the number of people I can take. You can't really have more then 20 boys in that facility without running into a risk.
"And we had no home meets which means we have to do senior night away. But everybody in the West Suburban Conference has been very understanding so far."
Flamion did credit the four seniors, Cole Bridgman and Michal Junik of Glenbard South and Bryce Dibadj and Tim Coutre of Glenbard West, for leading the way.
"We had really good senior leadership," he said. "They really have their heads on their shoulders and were able to help out a lot with the younger kids, just with understanding what high school sports are about and what the expectations are."
Now the next step is for the athletes to continue to improve throughout the offseason.
"The goal is to get them to realize that swimming is not a 14-week-a-year sport," Flamion said. "It's a 48-week-a-year sport. There are a lot of good club teams in the western suburbs. We have a lot of good athletes. Now they have to decide if they want to do it."
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