The Naperville City Swim Meet returned this year for its 54th year of annual competition. One drastic difference this year is that the two-day event took place outdoors; with 15 and older races being held Friday evening at Naper Carriage Hill and the Tall Grass Pool hosting the Saturday events.
“A lot happened because of COVID still. So, a lot of the schools in our area put off on getting maintenance for their pools and now was the time for them to do all the maintenance plus the High School girls season started earlier this year. So, with that time crunch there was no pool available in Naperville or any city around us,” said Brian O’Dowd, head coach for Naper Carriage Hill.
Boys 15 and Older
As usual, we saw plenty of familiar faces competing on the boys side in the 15 and older group on Friday night. Back in February, Arnav Deshpande swam for Waubonsie Valley and finished as state runner up in the 100-yard backstroke. For his final City Meet, he showed why he’s one of Naperville’s top swimmers winning the same event at 49.76 seconds for the Tall Grass Lightning. Along with Deshpande, current Naperville North Huskie Jonathan Wang won the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 22.28 for the Cress Creek Country Club Cyclones. He also took first place in the 100-yard individual medley.
“So, I pretty much started my swim career when I was eight on park district teams. I used to be on Otters and now I’ve been on Tall Grass for the past five years. It’s one of my favorite parts of the sport. Everything is so enjoyable and everyone just makes it so much fun,” said Deshpande.
Girls 15 and Older
The girls 15 and older group was filled with a bunch of talented swimmers that made a name for themselves throughout their high school careers. State champion in water polo for Naperville North, Sarah Crossett, is among one of those names that swam for Cress Creek Country Club. Another former Huskie in Claire Jansen swam for the Cress Creek Commons, and she won the 100-yard free with a time of 52.35. She also came out on top in the 100-yard backstroke. Former Naperville Central Redhawk Grace Malinger won the 50-yard freestyle at 24.57 seconds for Cress Creek Country Club. She was also a part of the winning team in the 200-yard medley relay and went on to claim first in the 100-yard I.M.
“It’s been amazing. I always say to people that Naperville has like the best summer swim conference ever. And all my club friends are like amazed when I tell them about our swimming conference here so it’s just always been great,” said Jansen.
“I’ve been doing this since I was six years old and every summer I’ve looked forward to competing at the last city meet. It’s just wonderful being able to come together and I see all of the people from all of the teams, over high school, and I just, it’s tons of fast swimming,” said Malinger.
The Saturday portion of the meet had all of the younger swimmers competing to help decide the championship. In the boys 11-12 100-yard I.M., Braden Meurer of the Breckenridge Breakers took first place with a time of 1:02.13. He also picked up wins in the 200-yard medley relay, 50-yard breaststroke, and 200-yard freestyle relay. What a day for him.
Ava Wallin from the Tall Grass Lightning won the girls 13-14 100-yard I.M. at 1:05.55 and her teammate Kailin McConkey finished in second. Wallin also grabbed first in the 50-yard backstroke.
The Stillwater Starz got a victory from Allen Xu in the boys 13-14 100-yard I.M. with a time of 59.11 and he was fired up afterwards.
The Tall Grass Lightning was victorious again in the girls 11-12 200-yard freestyle relay with Mirabelle Lacoursiere, Molly Faith, Brooklyn Landtiser, and Charlotte Lee at 1:53.59.
Mirabelle Lacoursiere: “It’s [swimming] better than all the other sports.”
Brooklyn Landtiser: “We’ve been swimming together since we were like…”
Charlotte Lee: “Seven?”
Molly Faith: “We were little. But we met each other when were like…”
Tall Grass Back On Top Once Again
The final scores were combined from both days and despite the move outdoors, we saw the same top three finishers as 2021. Tall Grass took home its fourth consecutive Naperville City Swim Meet team championship with 1696.50 points. The Cress Creek Country Club Cyclones finished in second with 1371 points while the Saybrook Sharks ended up in third at 1156 points. Another memorable weekend in the Naperville area.
For Naperville News 17, I’m Josiah Schueneman.