The Dexter Men’s Swim and Dive team captures a state title to join the Women’s team as 2015-16 champions
By Lizzy Merriman
It’s 3:42 p.m. The next three minutes will decide how Dexter leaves the pool: champions, or runner-ups. Bending down to grip the block just seconds before the gun, adrenaline pumps through the veins of everyone in the room. One false move will end you, one negative thought could destroy you.
“Take your mark… BEEP!” Suddenly shouts and whistles fill the natatorium. For some, this race completes a swimming career, for others it decides their future. The pressure under each and every athlete to win the title for the team, their coach, and themselves is unimaginable and enough to overload their already-exhausted bodies and brains.
When the day finally came, the Dreads were a little worried. Prior to the meet, five out of the 19 state qualifying athletes were sick, leaving the boys weakened and low-spirited.
Despite the plague of illness, the Dreads swam well during the prelims. With 12 boys returning to compete in finals, they set themselves up for greatness the following day.
“We were focused on the ultimate goal of winning a state championship all year,” Head Coach Michael McHugh said.
The finals kicked off with a nerve-racking medley relay of Alex Shehab, Rob Zofchak, Lance Frieman, and Alex Janosi. They placed fourth with a time of 1:35.41, giving the team an edge for the rest of the meet.
The momentum continued with a first and second place finish in the 200 freestyle by seniors Rob Zofchak and Matt Bergdolt. Senior David Merz finished eighth.
Freshman Lance Frieman had an outstanding meet, placing seventh in the 200 individual medley behind Alex Janosi’s sixth place finish. Frieman, the only freshman to the finals, also placed second in the 100 butterfly.
The thrill continued throughout the meet. Each swimmer needed to keep their place from prelims at finals which would determine the outcome of the meet.
The meet came to a triumphant conclusion with the 400 freestyle relay. Leading off the relay was Bergdolt followed by Merz, senior Jimmy Morgan, and Zofchak. The relay team had to finish seventh or better, but could not afford a false start.
The boys admitted to feeling some pressure.
The crowd was loud and the boys were ready to go. Each relay start more anxious than the one before. The last swimmer was on the block, Rob Zofchak. As soon as his feet left the block – the furthest thing from a false start possible – the parents and the swimmers were hugging and cheering with excitement.
“After I saw David’s start, I lost it,” Morgan said. “It was so slow and I just knew we had won.”
The official celebration began when Zofchak touched the wall for the final time.
“I can’t describe it,” Bergdolt said. “It’s like no other feeling. It was so awesome. I’m so happy for everyone.”
Starting November 23, everything had been dedicated to swimming and to winning a championship. Practices twice a day, deep week (check out The Squall’s December issue), and weight training. The men’s swim team was not going to stop without a trophy in hand.
“We had fun, swam fast, and won a state championship,” McHugh said.