Streak Swimmers set records:

Take 9th in state

 

By John Ring

 

It was just a few months ago that David Anderson, a Silver Streak football player, sat dejectedly on the bench, the victim of a serious knee injury. His season was done, his career as a football player was finished.

It would have been easy to give up, to be negative, to blame it on all sorts of things and to feel sorry for himself.

Instead, David Anderson, a Silver Streak swimmer, is part of a team basking in glory. That’s because the Streaks just completed the best-ever finish for a Galesburg swimming team.

They finished 9th at the state championships in Evanston and Anderson finished 5th in the 50-free. All told, Anderson, Chris Gordon, Devon Boydstun and Ian Boydstun lowered their times, set school records and finished the season on an unbelievable high in both individual and relay events.

“We are extremely excited,” said Anderson. “Finishing in the top ten was one of the goals we set going into the season.  When we accomplished that, we felt that we had done something that no other Galesburg swim team had ever done. We also hoped that it would let people know how hard our team works for what we have done and would let people see what swimming is all about.”

 It was also personal vindication for David, who put a lot of work in, especially after the knee injury. Anderson, a 6’4” senior tight end/defensive end wanted to be ready for the swim season. “I made sure that I stayed positive.  I would never think about it as a problem but as an opportunity to make myself better mentally and physically.  I worked really hard in the weight room to strengthen my legs and mentally tried to adapt to swimming with a bad knee.  Coach [John] Willy also made a rule that I was not allowed to talk about my knee at all during the season. I think there was something like 100 pushups riding on that.  As long as I could swim I was not going to worry about my knee.”

The Silver Streaks strong finish was almost textbook. Galesburg finished second at the Sectionals to Sterling but didn’t let that bother them. They looked at State as a fresh start and had a lot of confidence going into the event.

“We knew that Sterling was fully shaved and tapered for sectionals so we knew they would be tough.  But I think we all knew that we could beat them at State when we peaked.  We were a little disappointed with not winning our third consecutive sectional championship but it did fire us up for state.  We did what we needed to do by getting to state and knew we would get the job done in Evanston.”

“Everyone on the team was very confident that they could drop significant time once we were fully tapered,” said Anderson. “Tapering is a training technique that begins with ‘Swimming High Intensity Training’— around 12-14,000 yards per day for three to four weeks then ‘tapering off’ for one to two weeks. This is used to tear down all the muscle and then at the peak at the end of tapering, swimmers are as strong as possible. We swam through Sectionals knowing that we wouldn’t be very fast, yet fast enough to get to state.”

“The key to peaking at the right time is to train the right way, train hard during “hell month” then to let off the weights at the right time and taper the right way.  Mr. Willy has done an awesome job of making sure we are fast when we need to be.”

The records posted on the wall of the Mustain Pool will need to be changed again. Anderson explained why he thinks swimmers keep going faster. “It’s the training. We are in better shape for swimming; we use weights and conditioning to address and build specific muscles. It’s tapering; it’s the way we practice. They learn techniques every year to make us better swimmers. Some people think the new suits make a difference but I’m not convinced. They are real expensive, however. The suit I wear costs about $250 and the full body ones can be over $600.”

Anderson’s football career may be over but his swimming certainly isn’t. David will attend Notre Dame and swim at the Division I level, just as former Silver Streak swimmer Danielle Hulick did for four years. Anderson is aware of the big step up he’s taking. “It will be extremely difficult. I have been prepared well for practices by Mr. Willy but there are also elements to college training that I have never done such as dry-land training and some really difficult in-water drills.  The hardest part is that I will be recovering from ACL reconstructive surgery.  But with a good work ethic and some intensive rehab and training, I think that I will be able to work hard this summer and prepare myself for Division I college swimming.”

As part of the recruiting process, Anderson attended a pair of Irish football games — he missed the USC game because of the injury — but saw Michigan State and Tennessee play Notre Dame. “It is truly amazing, part of the recruiting process is standing on the field for pregame. The band, the crowd and the team is so unreal.  After the pre-game I would go up to the stands with the swim team in the student section. I have never seen such a crazy student section; it even beats our crowd at girls games. It took me the first half of one game to learn all of the cheers and then I tried to fit in.  I loved every second of it.  The football games, the campus, and the people, ND is a special place and I am thrilled to be a part of it next year.”

But that’s next year. David Anderson and the Streaks are still celebrating what happened last week. They were one of just two downstate teams (Champaign Central was the other) to finish in the top 17. “We know that it isn’t very common for a downstate team to finish in the top ten,” said Anderson. “It is a great feeling. Something not a lot of people know is that swimming is one of the biggest sports in Chicago and the suburbs.  New Trier has amazing facilities and the depth of their team cannot be rivaled.  They also have year-round programs that concentrate solely on winning state championships.  We are thrilled to be a team of four state qualifiers and we all participate in more than one sport and still finished 9th.”

As the Streaks were playing Peoria Notre Dame a few weeks ago in a basketball game, a longtime Galesburg fan watched the Streak post players struggle. He shook his head. “You know,” he said, “you could put David Anderson out there right now without him practicing and he could do a better job. He’s one heck of an athlete.”

Not only that, Anderson and the other Streak seniors made the academic All-Conference team. The grade point average of the entire swim team is well above 3.5. “Let’s just say,” says Galesburg Athletic Director Ralph Henning, “that I never have to worry about a swimmer on this team being academically eligible to compete.”

No wonder John Willy will never forget this team — and he’s had some special ones in the past.