116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MARION — Tom Belin has set the bar high.
But even Belin was surprised at the performances he got from his Linn-Mar boys’ swimming team at Saturday's district meet.
The Lions were dominant from start to finish, winning eight of 11 events en route to 469 points and a team championship, easily outdistancing Cedar Rapids Washington (331) and Marshalltown (323.5) at the Linn-Mar Aquatic Center.
Linn-Mar winning the meet was no surprise. The fact the Lions were able to show considerable time drops despite still being in the midst of intense training was what had Belin beaming after the meet.
“I did not think we were going to have this good of a meet the way we've been training,” he said. “We're really gearing toward (the state meet) next week. A number of these guys are swimming through it and to post the times they did today, I'm just thrilled.”
The Lions entered Saturday ranked No. 4 in the state power rankings behind Iowa City West, Waukee and Ames. They did nothing to hurt their standing with the state meet just six days away at the University of Iowa's Campus and Wellness Recreation Center pool.
Seniors Cooper Callahan and Aiden Carstensen made the most of their final prep appearances in their home pool. Callahan, a Purdue commit, was impressive in winning both the 200-yard freestyle (1:40.11) and 500 freestyle (4:35.21).
Callahan was named the district athlete of the year. He was also part of Linn-Mar's winning 200 and 400 freestyle relays.
“We all came out here and accomplished what we wanted to do today,” he said. “We wanted to get in position to have a great finish at state next week and I think we did that.”
Carstensen, a South Dakota State commit, won the 50 freestyle (20.88) and the 100 backstroke (50.12) and was on winning relay efforts in the 200 medley and 400 free. He won the state title in the 100 back last season and looks primed to defend his title.
“I think I busted out some respectable times today for a district meet,” Carstensen said. “Just about everybody went as fast or faster than they wanted to. We had a really good day today and we are looking to do even better later on.”
The Lions’ third NCAA Division I commit, junior Ian Steffen, won the 100 freestyle in 45.86. Steffen, who announced Friday he was going to swim collegiately for Minnesota, was a close second to Carstensen in the 100 back, finishing in 50.35.
Linn-Mar's best-ever state finish is fifth, posted last season. Belin believes the team is primed to better that mark.
“I think these guys have a lot more in them,” he said. “I can't wait to see what they can do next week. All I can ask of them is to go out there and do their best. I can't control what others do, but I feel real good about what we can do.”
Washington and Cedar Rapids Kennedy had one winner each. The Warriors' Seth Williams won the 100 butterfly (54.49) while Kennedy's Mason Turner took the 200 IM (1:55.54). Kennedy head coach Shawn Thomsen and his staff were named the district coaching staff of the year.
Vinton-Shellsburg senior Carter Kirtz was the meet's other individual winner, taking the 100 breaststroke in 58.49.