Swim team finishes seventh in state after strong season

By Tania Cristobal and Chuck Baumgartner

The IHSA State swimming competition took place at the FMC Natatorium in Westmont, Illinois, the weekend of February 25. West Chicago’s cooperative boys’ swim team (which competes alongside both Geneva and Batavia High Schools) took seventh place overall, their highest finish at the State-level in the history of the school. 

Sophomore Brady Johnson represented WEGO at State, taking third place in the 100-yard backstroke. Johnson also placed fifth in the individual medley. He also swam on the two freestyle relay team races with fellow co-op competitors Logan Townsend (senior), Gavin McCullough (senior) and Mason Smith. Those teams placed sixth (400-yard relay) and eighth (200-yard relay). 

For Johnson, the season was filled with personal bests. He broke the pool record in the 100-yard backstroke (51.64) against Marmion on December 28, and then Keegan Hawkins’ pool record (58.69) in the 100-yard breaststroke on January 22 at the Buffalo Grove Invite.

Johnson got the top time on the team for the 50-yard freestyle with a time 20.84 seconds which occurred at state. At State, Johnson also achieved a time 48.42 seconds in the 100-yard backstroke.

Brady Johnson with his third-place medal from the 100-yard backstroke competition at State. (Photo by @WeGoAthletics)

Johnson said, “In terms of goals for me is definitely winning State in the 100 back, I got third as a sophomore against all seniors, so I think because they are graduating I have a chance. The thing I most enjoyed about this season was definitely the bus rides to meets where we would all blast our music and get fired up for meets ready to dominate.”

The entire swim team performed well over the last several months, winning five different invites, including the Wildcat Relays, an event hosted by West Chicago Community High School. 

Junior Mark Stavenger, an alternate for State, said, “I think it was the first time we won in like 40 years. So, it was pretty good! And we were missing one of our top swimmers.”

Additional invite wins came from the Leyden Eagle Invite, the Bartlett Mike Coleman Invite, the Buffalo Grove Bison Invite, the Winter Splash Invite, and the Upstate Eight Conference meet.

Fourteen-year veteran coach Troy Murray said, “Our second-place showing at the St. Charles East sectional was the best showing in team history.” 

He explained over email that the team “set a few team records this year – 200 free, 500 free, 50 free, 100 free, and the 400 free relay. Four freshmen combined to set the freshmen 400 free relay record.”

Stavenger and sophomore Ryan Fors (Geneva) served as alternates at the State competition, meaning they would have swum in a given event if someone was unable to do so. Other swimmers on this year’s team included WEGO seniors Gio Sebastian (Varsity) and Robert Washington, Jr. (JV), and sophomores Jorge Gomez, Devin Larimer and Brandon Heath (JV).

Senior Gio Sebastian on Senior Night, competing in butterfly. (Photo by Yearbook Staff)

Sebastian achieved a personal best in the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 59.66 seconds earlier in the season, while Washington had a personal best of 25.19 seconds in the 50-yard freestyle.

Sebastian said, “My senior year was for real.”

Murray has enjoyed coaching this hard-working team. Murray said, “The boys’ team is deep and talented. They are a goofy bunch of boys, but they buckle down and work when they need to.”

“If I could say anything to my teammates, I would wish them the best of luck for their club seasons and keep training hard and getting ready for next year. If I could say anything to my coaches, I would tell them to get a better music taste and thank them for all they have done throughout my high school career,” said Johnson.