The goal for head coach Colin Crandell and his Indian River High School swimming team is always the state finals.
The Indians actualized that goal last weekend, when they clocked some of their best times of the year at the DIAA state championships held at the University of Delaware, breaking IRHS school records in the process.
The only female swimmer for the Indians to make it to the Top 16 on Saturday, Feb. 25, was senior Lindsey Grow, who broke her own school records in the 200 IM with a time of 2:20.61 and 100 Breaststroke with a time of 1:12.50.
The 100- yard breaststroke time was good for an 11th-place finish as Grow returned to the finals for the fourth straight year.
When we drove up Saturday, the whole conversation was about mindset,” said Crandell of heading into the finals. “The goal is always states. It’s a progression. Our trajectory is always to get them to go faster and faster and faster, and they did that. If they improve, we’re happy.”
On the boys’ side, freshman Josh McIntire continued to cement himself as somewhat of a freshman phenom when he also broke two school records and was the only IR boys swimmer to make it to the Top 16 individually.
McIntire broke IR grad Carter Michael’s school record in the 100 Butterfly with a time of 55.72 for 13th overall, and set another school record in the 200 IM with a time of 2:04.08.
The boys’ freestyle relay team of the Kohr brothers — Jonathan and Max — sophomore Michael Barnes and junior Blake Shuart also made a splash in the finals, taking nearly two seconds off their Henlopen Conference championship time.
After getting edged by Caesar Rodney, Cape Henlopen and Sussex Tech at the HAC championships, Crandell said that his squad used it as motivator at the finals.
“All our boys’ relays came back,” said Crandell. “I asked them to go 135 at finals, and they did. We wanted to go into states and beat all the teams that beat us at conferences. It kept driving us.”
The 400 free relay team of McIntire, Barnes, Jonathan Kohr and sophomore Patrick Banks used that motivation to shave almost seven seconds off their HAC time, finishing 13th overall with a time of 3:31.89.
Aside from the top performances at states, the Indians also received some good news this week when nine swimmers were named Henlopen All-Conference.
Grow and McIntire were both named First-Team selections, with Banks, Barnes, Jonathan Kohr, and Shuart making the Second-Team cut for the boys, seniors McKenna Burke and Erin Haden being named Second-Team for the girls, and sophomore Garrett Bomhardt earning an Honorable Mention selection.
Crandell was named Henlopen Conference Coach of the Year for the second time in his coaching career, a résumé that also includes a Henlopen South Division Coach of the Year award.
“It’s always nice to be recognized when you put in the time, but it’s never been about me — it’s always been about these guys,” he said of the award. “They give back to us everything that we’re giving to them.”
While the Indians will graduate Burke, Grow and Haden, they’ll return their entire boys’ squad next season, as they aim to set the bar even higher.
“We’re hungry for more,” said McIntire after conferences. “Next year, we’re aiming to finish first or second.”
“I’m proud of our program and where it’s going,” added Banks. “We’ve definitely got some work to do with the new kids that we have coming up, but it’s definitely going to be something to look out for.”