They set their objectives high, exceeding many of them.
Cathedral High School boys swimming achieved a high standard individually in 2023. The Irish did so as a team as well, capping a memorable season with a strong postseason.
“The boys season went really well,” Irish swimming coach Megan Ahnert said.
The 2023 Irish boys swimming team – led by strong senior and freshman classes – finished fifth in the Section 14 meet at North Central with 164 points behind sectional champion North Central with 492 points. The Irish boys also won the City Meet and finished second to Brebeuf Jesuit in the Schools with No Pools meet.
Ahnert, in her eighth season with the program and first as head coach, said the boys team overall improved dramatically throughout the season.
“There were a lot of surprises this season, too,” she said. “We were really close to some school records that I didn’t know if we would approach. We lost a lot of depth from last year, so coming within two tenths of a second or half a second or a second here and there in some events was pretty impressive for our boys.”
Turning in a particularly strong season was senior Sammy Bridges, who re-set school records in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle (21.52 seconds and 48.12 seconds).
“Being able to do that was super impressive,” Ahnert said. “Sammy came in last year as a junior and swam these last two seasons for us. He is a sprinter, but honestly could be put anywhere and do very well. He's strong in the water and works really hard. He really rallies the team to push themselves too, which is exciting.
“Having him in [sectional] prelims break both of his records really brought the energy up for our team and got the excitement going. It just showed that hard work does pay off and if you do the right things that we're asking you to do, you’re going to get some good results.
“Him trusting that and trusting me, all of that was super helpful.”
Here’s how the Irish fared in the sectional meet:
*Bridges: third in the 50 freestyle in 21.91, fourth in the 100 freestyle in 48.29.
*Junior Liam Fahey: eighth in the 200 individual medley in 2:10.52, eighth in the 100 breaststroke in 1:02.93.
*Senior Andrew Michael: eighth in the 100 butterfly in 57.16.
*Freshman Wyatt Field: eighth in the 500 freestyle in 5:23.94, 12th in the 200 freestyle in 2:00.07.
*Senior Ben Dravis: eighth in the 100 backstroke in 1:03.09, 16th in the 500 freestyle in 5:54.27.
*Sophomore Christopher Dravis: Ninth in the 500 freestyle in 5:21.04, 15th in the 100 breaststroke in 1:09.61.
*Freshman Alex Wesseling: 10th in the 200 freestyle in 1:53.21, 13th in the 100 butterfly in 1:00.12.
*Senior Ayden Fahey: 11th in the 50 freestyle in 24.02, 12th in the 100 breaststroke in 1:06.60.
*Freshman Tyler Neucks: 12th in the 100 butterfly in 59.09, 13th in the 200 IM in 2:15.37.
*Junior Quinn Gianoli: 14th in the 200 freestyle in 2:04.20,
*Sophomore Reece Bonhomme: 14th in the 200 IM in 2:18.88, 10th in the 100 backstroke in 1:03.41.
*Freshman Santiago Cutchin: 15th in the 50 freestyle in 24.56, 15th in the 100 free in 54.63.
The 200-yard medley relay team – Bonhomme, junior Liam Fahey, Michael and Neucks – finished fifth in 1:44.92. The 200 free relay – Neucks, Michael, Ayden Fahey and Bridges – finished fourth in 1:32.37. The 400 free relay – Wesseling, Bonhomme, Ayden Fahey and Bridges – finished third in 3:26.38.
“I had a lot of lofty goals for them, and they did a really good job of meeting most of them, which was fantastic,” Ahnert said.
Ahnert said even with the loss of a strong senior class, the goals will remain high – and that the potential is there to continue reaching those goals.
“It's going be tough losing Sammy, losing Ayden, losing Andrew and Ben,” she said. “They provided a lot of speed for our relays and got us pretty close to some records. Those are going to be some big shoes to fill, but I think we're still in a really good place with the underclassmen that we have to have some growth and go from there.”