All in all, Cathedral High School boys swimming achieved in 2021-2022.
The boys not only had postseason success, they accomplished it as the sort of versatile, team-first group that coach Ashley Hill covets.
“It was a great year for the boys,” Hill said.
The Irish boys not only won the 2022 City meet, they finished fifth in the Section 14 meet at North Central with 195.5 points – behind North Central (492), Franklin Central (425.5), Lawrence North (330) and Bishop Chatard (197).
Hill called the sectional “a great met for the boys,” with the 200-yard freestyle relay setting a school record and junior Samuel Bridges setting school records in the 50 and 100 freestyle.
Ten swimmers swam in 19 sectional championship or consolation swims – with eight of those qualifiers multi-sport athletes, three band members and three members of the Irish’s 2021 Class 5A state championship football team.
“They’re a special group of kids,” Hill said. “They sacrificed for each other like no group I’ve ever seen in swimming. They took care of each other. They took care of their teammates.”
Hill said that was particularly true of a senior class that included team leaders and captains such as Nolan Clark, Ian Green, Parker Spellacy, Max Timberman and Josh Zenil.
“They walked side by side with them; our seniors did that all year long with these kids,” Hill said. “We see the results in the pool this year and I think we’ll see the results for this season for the next three years because of this group of seniors. They’re leaving that strong a legacy for our program.”
Hill said the performances of football players such as Spellacy, Bridges and Ayden Fahey stood out.
“They were a month and change into a swim season,” Hill said. “To come in, be a big part of our program and fit right in … it says a lot about what [Irish football coach] Bill Peebles does in the football program, and it goes back to our culture at Cathedral and the swim program.”
A look at Irish boys in the sectional:
*Bridges: fourth in the 50 freestyle (21.84 seconds), sixth in the 100 freestyle (48.91).
*Spellacy: eighth in the 100 backstroke (1:00.25), 11th in the 50 freestyle (23.38),
*Timberman: 10th in the 100 freestyle (51.15), 12th in the 50 freestyle (23.43),
*Sophomore Liam Fahey: 10th in the 100 breaststroke (1:06.69), 11th in the 200 freestyle (2:00.69),
*Junior Andrew Michael: 11th in the 100 butterfly (59.21), 13th in the 200 freestyle (2:01.73),
*Freshman Reece Bonhomme: 12th in the 200 individual medley (2:16.03), 15th in the 100 breaststroke (1:11.23).
*Junior Ayden Fahey: 13th in the 100 freestyle (53.36), 13th in the 100 breaststroke (1:08.44).
*Freshman Chris Davis: 13th in the 500 freestyle (5:34.35), 16th in the 200 freestyle (2:05.48),
*Junior Ben Dravis: 13th in the 100 backstroke (1:06.20),
*Clark: 15th in the 500 freestyle (5:38.19),
The Irish 200-yard medley relay team of Spellacy, Liam Fahey, Clark and Bridges finished fifth in 1:42.53. The 200 freestyle relay team of Bridges, Spellacy, Ayden Fahey and Timberman finished fourth in 1:31.40. The 400 freestyle relay team of Michael, Ayden Fahey, Liam Fahey and Timberman finished fifth in 3:33.36.
Timberman won the 100 free at the City meet, with the 400 free relay of Timberman, Bridges, Bonhomme and Liam Fahey winning the City meet.
“People would say we overachieved,” Hill said. “The boys did such a great job this year building each other up, building team, camaraderie – all the little things outside the water. Coming out of a year and a half of COVID[-19], this was a group of kids who never had a full team practice. They never had the opportunity to swim as one during that year.
“They did such a great job of rebuilding the culture we had set going into COVID. We maintained some of that last year, but this group took it to an even higher mark into the future. They sacrifice a lot of time on the front end of this season to come in extra, to have meetings before school to talk about what needed to happen this season inside and outside of practice to help these guys. They did a wonderful job.”
Hill cited a scene after the February 19 boys Section 14 meet at North Central as an example of the Irish program’s camaraderie and commitment to team.
“We must have had almost the entire program – girls and boys – down on deck to do post-meet meeting and prayer,” Hill said. “Looking around the circle, there were tears everywhere. There were tears because they care about each other.
“It had nothing to do with who finished where or what happened in a race. It was that they knew they weren’t going to have that moment together again. If I can walk away as a coach from any team and any season I work with and that’s how they feel about each other, we win no matter what.”