Going up against some of the state’s stop talent at the Henlopen Conference championships on Saturday, Feb. 11, the Indian River High School swim team rose to the challenge, with a slew of swimmers taking the podium and setting new personal records in the process.
Among the top individual performances was IR senior Lindsey Grow taking second with a time of 1:05.88 and senior McKenna Burke taking third with a time of 1:07.68 in the 100-yard butterfly.
Both times were personal bests for the senior co-captains, earning both Grow and Burke top spots on the podium, along with Cape Henlopen senior Amelia Nigh-Johnson and her first-place time of 1:00.78.
“It was great to be up on the podium together. That was awesome,” said Burke after receiving her medal. “We were pushing each other in our heat.”
After earning their fourth straight Henlopen South division title, the boys’ squad fell short of their best finish at conferences in program history by just half a point, taking fourth place behind Caesar Rodney, Cape Henlopen and Sussex Tech.
“The points will fall where they fall, but if our swimmers drop times, that’s the goal,” said IR head coach Colin Crandell. “Everybody did, so we’re really pleased,”
Individually, IR sophomore Michael Barnes took third in the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 2:01.66, with Sussex Tech’s Justin Alloway earning the second-place spot at 2:00.49, and Sussex Academy’s Evan Davis taking first and clocking in at 1:59.17.
IR sophomore Patrick Banks earned two individual medals for the Indians on the day, one in the 200 IM, where he finished second with a time of 2:12.05, and the other in the 500-yard freestyle, where he took third at 5:26.01, just behind Alloway and Caesar Rodney’s Ethan Herring.
IR freshman Josh McIntire also collected two individual medals at the meet, finishing third in the 100-yard backstroke at 58.07, and bringing home the gold with a first-place finish and time of 56.94 in the 100-yard butterfly. IR junior Blake Shuart also medaled in that event, taking third at 58.89.
In team relays, the Indians saw equal success.
The relay team of junior Jonathan Kohr, sophomore Max Kohr, Shuart and Barnes placed third in the 200-yard freestyle relay, while Max Kohr, Banks, Barnes and McIntire went on to take third in the 400-yard freestyle relay.
In the 200-yard medley relay, Jonathan Kohr teamed up with McIntire, Banks and Shuart for a first-place finish and time of 1:48.61. The Sussex Tech relay team of Antonio Monaco, Jonathan Lee, Dylan Taylor and Garrett Richardson took second in that event, with Sussex Academy’s Cooper Shawver, Trey Mitchell, Gabe Gonzalez and Parker Shawver placing third.
“Our medley relay, we just wanted to go out there and dominate — it was a great performance from everybody,” Banks said of one of his four medals on the day. “Everybody did the best that they could today.”
Other top performances for the Indians included a fifth-place finish from Grow, Burke, senior Erin Haden and sophomore Sarah Roehl in the 200-yard medley relay, where Roehl’s split on the freestyle was a personal record as she heads into the state finals next week.
In the 500-yard freestyle, IR sophomore Mitch McGee also set a new personal best, taking eighth with a time of 6:07.67 — shaving 8 seconds off of his previous PR as he, too, gears up for the state finals.
“He’s one of the hardest-working kids I’ve ever seen,” McIntire said of McGee, a first-year swimmer. “He’s always positive, and he just keeps getting better and better.”
“The impact that he’s had on our team is amazing,” said Banks. “He’s completely committed, and his attitude just brings everybody up.”
With the DIAA state preliminaries coming up on Wednesday, Feb. 22, for the girls and Thursday, Feb. 23, for the boys, the Indians were looking for a similar performance to their run at conferences.
“We’re excited,” said Crandell. “We’re going into states strong.”