NORMAL — Clubs turn Bloomington-Normal swimmers into teammates and, in an odd twist, high school swimming turns them into opponents, especially in the Intercity Meet, which Normal West hosted on Tuesday.
In an atmosphere of spirited sportsmanship, University High won with 564 points followed by defending champion Normal Community (498), Normal West (484), Bloomington (363) and Central Catholic (225).
"I love this meet because the guys do a really nice job across all the teams," said U High coach Michelle Meyer. "They get so excited. As you could tell before the meet, they are real good friends, but they are such competitors. It's a fun meet.
"I was pretty happy with the times for where we're at in the season. I can't wait to see what they are going to do. We've got more work ahead of us."
No one worked his way up The Pantagraph all-time list further than BHS senior Reid Byers, who blasted the 100-yard backstroke in 52.32 seconds, a mark only five men in area history have surpassed. Only six in the state have gone faster this season.
"It was .14 off our school record (set by Justin Wolfe in 2008)," Byers said. "I thought I was going about two seconds slower than I was."
Byers uses an underwater dolphin kick the first 15 yards, the maximum distance allowed. He spent more time underwater on the last leg than he ever has. Earlier, he won the 200 individual medley in 2:00.60.
"In the IM, he was a little tired because we didn't rest a whole lot yesterday," said retiring BHS coach Bob Loy, who was honored before the meet for his 38 years of service. "His backstroke was really good. He was about a half-second faster getting out (at 25.33 the first 50)."
After five events, the Pioneers only led NCHS by four points. From there, it was all U High, which last won in 2014.
"It happened the last time we won state so it's legendary for our team," said Pioneer double winner Colton Stogner. "This meet is one of the most fun meets ever.
"Club swimming kind of brings us together and this meet kind of divides us. Sometimes it's fun to swim against people on your old team."
The reigning champion in the 50 freestyle, Stogner sped an area-pacing 21.60 and came back to capture the 100 freestyle in 46.89, missing his area-leading best by one hundredth of a second. He judged those marks as "all right" considering he was battling a cold.
"Once we get that (training) taper, I'm hoping to place pretty high in the state," he said.
Stogner’s 21.84 split aided the winning 200 freestyle relay (1:30.19) and his 47.32 split keyed the winning 400 freestyle relay (3:17.08). Joining him in the shorter relay were Josh Nepomuceno, Kyle Johnson and Anthony Williamson. The longer relay had Elijah Gray, Johnson and Williamson.
"Everybody is working hard," Stogner said. "Once everybody hits that taper, we're going to be up there at state."
Nepomuceno upset defending champion Harrison Fudge of U High in the 100 breaststroke, 1:01.24 to 1:01.99. Johnson won the 500 freestyle in 4:51.87 and Williamson took the 200 freestyle in an area-pacing 1:45.61.
Johnson needed a season best in the 500 to stay ahead of Gray in second (4:53.32).
Fudge, Nepomuceno and Gray joined Andy Ritsema to win the 200 medley relay in 1:42.44. The No. 3 seed in the 100 butterfly, Ritsema won that in a season best of 55.67, the area’s third best time this year.
BHS senior Gus Jumonville defended his diving title with a score of 229.40 points, which well off his school record of 285.45.
"It was a nice win, but I hate myself for that score," Jumonville said. "It was one of those off days. I was leaning. I wasn't right on the board.
"My best dive today score-wise was probably my inward dive (in the first round). I think I got a little cocky when I did that ... but then it was just all downhill."