Prep Sports

Linn-Mar hopes for uneventful district swimming meet

But Lions are gunning for a second straight title

The Linn-Mar swim team and fans celebrate as a second place finish in the 400-yard freesytle relay gives the Lions the team title at a boys’ district swimming meet at Coe College in Cedar Rapids. The meet had to be moved to Coe after Linn-Mar’s pool was deemed too cold. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
The Linn-Mar swim team and fans celebrate as a second place finish in the 400-yard freesytle relay gives the Lions the team title at a boys’ district swimming meet at Coe College in Cedar Rapids. The meet had to be moved to Coe after Linn-Mar’s pool was deemed too cold. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

MARION — To say the 2017 boys’ district swim meet didn’t go according to plan would be an understatement.

Just days before the meet, with nobody on site, some glass windows at the Linn-Mar Aquatic Center simply broke. The windows were repaired and the meet was set to go at the facility.

However, the water temperature of the pool didn’t reach state competition standards for warmth so the meet was shifted to Coe College four hours before the start of the meet.

“That was a wild day,” Linn-Mar Coach Tom Belin said. “With all that went on, I think everybody handled it pretty well. Knock on wood for this year. We’d like things to go as scheduled.”

Linn-Mar is hosting one of six districts around the state Saturday to determine the qualifiers for next Saturday’s state meet at the University of Iowa’s Campus Recreation and Wellness Center pool. All district meets begin at noon.

One thing from 2017 Belin would like to see repeated is the Lions taking the district title. Linn-Mar edged Cedar Rapids Washington by 6 1/2 points, putting an end to an amazing 53-year streak of district titles for the Warriors.

The two rivals are expected to battle it out again for the team title this Saturday. Washington Coach Chris Cruise downplayed the end of the streak, maintaining the focus, as it always has been, is the state meet.

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“The other stuff kind of takes care of itself in most cases as a result of that focus,” Cruise said in reference to Washington’s success in past district meets. “We do not ever really put our focus on districts, other than as a qualifying meet for state, when we feel we are in the running to be competitive at the state meet.”

One of the ironies of last year’s events was the fact the Lions and Warriors spent much of the time leading up to the district meet training together in the Washington pool.

“That’s one of the great things about this sport,” Belin said. “There is a great sense of camaraderie among the athletes. The kids know each other well, so working together wasn’t a problem at all.”

It was Linn-Mar’s depth that proved to be the difference in last year’s meet. Both teams have talented top-end swimmers again this year, meaning the title likely will be decided by others on the roster.

That method served Washington well over its title run.

“Over the years, we have placed an emphasis on team,” Cruise said. “We have certainly had some outstanding individual swimmers, but without those second and third swimmers in your lineup, we wouldn’t have been able to get it done.”

Iowa City West and City High have been placed in an eight-team district at Southeast Polk. Second-ranked West Des Moines Valley is the team favorite.

Coach Byron Butler’s West team is ranked No. 7 while City High is 13th in the latest power rankings. West is led by Izaak Hajek, who is ranked third in the 100-yard butterfly.

City High is paced by versatile sophomore Forrest Frazier, who is ranked in the top five in three different events.

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