February 24th, 2018

St. X swimming wins 30th straight state title

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Conor Revell

Managing Editor

St. X swimming wins 30th straight state title
The Tigers pose with the state championship trophy / photo by Conor Revell

Few things are guaranteed in sports, St. Xavier’s swim team dominating at the Pannell Swim Shop / Kentucky High School Athletic Association Swimming & Diving Championships is one of those certainties.

The Tigers brought home four state titles and won their 30th straight team state title beating out second place Lexington Catholic 453-229 Saturday morning at the University of Louisville’s Natatorium.

It's the school 54th team state title in school history, their first one was won 71 years ago back in 1947.

“I think our kids respect the tradition,” St. X head coach Todd Larkin said. “They believe in the process. I think they embrace what being a champion is all about when they walk into every meet knowing that everyone is trying to knock them down.

“I’m extremely proud of them not only with how they swam, but with how they represented the school. They swim with a lot of pride, they walk around with a lot of pride, and it’s great to see it all come together at this meet.”

Brophy Prep’s swim team is the only other program with such a streak having won their 30th straight state championship this past November.

Trinity came in fourth place as a team with 152 points, just two points behind third-place Fort Thomas Highlands.

“Fourth place finish is awesome,” Trinity first-year head coach Mike Essig said. “The kids did such a great job inside the pool and outside of the pool. The comradery was great with all the boys together. It was really neat and I was excited to see how we swam.”   

Aldan Johnston had himself a day to remember and walked away with four state championship medals for the second year in a row.

“I was very excited,” Johnston said. “What a way to finish out my high school career at St. X. It was a great experience. Coming into the meet I was fired up. I wanted to give it all for my team and end my high school career with a bang.”

St. Xavier's Will Cole, Connor Kang, Johnston, and Michael Eastman set a new record and won the 200-yard medley relay with a time of 1:30.17.

“We have to have trust with everybody in the relay,” Cole said. “You have to know that each person is going to go as hard as they can. You have to have a good start and a good finish.”

It’s a record that the Tigers seem to break regularly. Martin Nitzken, Keefer Barnum, Kang, and Eastman swam the same event in 1:32.31 last year to break the previous record.

Johnston followed that up and won the 200-yard free with a time of 1:35.76 breaking his old record of 1:36.89 set last year.

“He’s special,” Larkin said of Johnston. “He has won all four events the last two years. It doesn’t get any better than that. He’s a quality kid. He has great character. He’s a phenomenal student-athlete. He embodies what we do here at St. X. He’s just a great all-around kid.”

The senior wasn’t finished and clocked a 4:25.31 to win the 500 free, he was two seconds shy of breaking the record held by Ballard’s Jake Schultz set four years ago.

“You have to have a lot of endurance,” Johnston said. “I don’t think there’s a special way to swim it. You just have to give it your all. You know you’re going to hurt either way.”

Holden Smith, Dominik Tomchek, Kang, and Streater recorded a time of 1:25.11 to win the 200 yard free relay.

Eastman, Cole, Streater, and Johnston ended the meet by breaking another record clocking a 3:00.31 to win the 400 free relay.

The old record was 3:03.68 set by Johnston, Cole, Cole Brown, and Eastman a year ago.

Connor Kang (200 IM), Cole (200 free and 200 back), and Eastman (100 butterfly) recorded second place finishes for St. X.

“In the 200 back you have to have good underwaters,” Cole said. “You have to maintain your strokes and improve your strokes throughout the entire race.”

Andrew Streater (100 free) and Michael Jones (500 free) placed third in events for the Tigers.

Hunter Tapp had a big day himself to guide Trinity.

“He had an incredible meet,” Essig said. “He’s very versatile. He went after it in the 50 and we talked after that event, resolved the issues, and made some adjustments for the 100. I think it worked out for him”

Tapp placed second in the 50 free and then won the 100 free clocking a 43.99, breaking his old record of 44.65 set last year.

“For me, I always focus on the first 50 yards,” Tapp said. “I always try to get out ahead first.”

Jacob Bibeau, Jacob Dray, Tapp, and Logan Thomas got a second place finish for the Shamrocks in the 200 free relay.

“Trinity swimming is on the upswing,” Essig said. “We have a great group of kids. I think if we work hard, pay attention to the details, the possibilities for Trinity swimming is endless.”

Tapp, Bibeau, Dray, and Luke Bunnell recorded a third place finish for Trinity in the 400 free relay.

“I think we had a good year,” Tapp said. “I think we’re only going to get better considering our whole team returns next year. We’re going to make a good run for it.”

While the Tigers will celebrate, preparations to continue the legacy have already started, knowing that Trinity and the rest of the state is gunning for them.

“I think the state is getting faster, there are a lot of great teams out there,” Larkin said. “I think that’s why we have been able to repeat this and continue the streak because we respect the rest of the state. I think as soon as you stop respecting everybody, someone will come out of nowhere, and that’s when you lose. We’re very aware of who is out there. We have a great coaching staff. Our student-athletes are very aware of what they need to do and what their roles are.”



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