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Druley: Marmion swimming looks for long-term payoff

AURORA – Marmion swimmers hopped into the Regole Natatorium lanes for practice a little later than usual one day last week.

Coach Bill Schalz was out of town, but the Cadets weren’t trying to pull a fast one on his assistants.

A school assembly had run late, prolonging athletes’ arrivals. Although it was minor, the extra time spent in their seats allowed the Cadets valuable extra time to recharge.

“We haven’t placed as high as we had last year, but I feel like we’ve been working a lot harder this year,” senior Jack Fergus said. “We’re swimming most of our meets pretty tired, but we’ve done pretty well for how tired we’ve been in all the meets. I think we’re going to be fine.”

Unlike St. Charles East, which is openly aiming to eclipse the school record of 616,000 training yards in one season, Marmion isn’t going wild on that front.

More than double practices – which Schalz traditionally has avoided – the fatigue stems from an increased focus on weight training.

Marmion holds “dry land” workouts in the weight room two or three times a week, while also stressing calisthenic repeats.

“We’ve definitely stepped it up [from past seasons],” senior Mike Burke said. “And definitely, the intensity has been stepped up a ton.”

Runner-up finishes at the Naperville North college events meet (Dec. 28) and Sandburg Invitational (Jan. 18) suggest Marmion is rounding into form as the state series approaches. The Cadets finished seventh at state last season but lost part of their core to graduation, including Minnesota freshman Jon Thielen.

Burke and Fergus competed together on the Cadets’ 200-yard medley and 200 freestyle relays; Burke added a third finals swim in the 400 free relay.

Cultivating more depth is the biggest objective entering the season’s final month.

“Just focus on the small things that we’ve been thinking about all season. The small things that you work on to set your goals,” Burke said. “Turns, starts – all the things that are going to make the difference.”

Naturally, those things get repetitious, but with tapering soon to be on the Cadets’ mind, they can refuel and go from there.

“I think we’re a lot faster than people think we are and our relays are a lot better than people think they are,” Fergus said. “We’re really an underrated team.”

Concession craziness: If there’s one thing that can uproot a rowdy student section in the heat of a possession-for-possession basketball game, it’s this:

Free hot dogs and pizza slices.

Such was life as the nightcap of the Geneva-Glenbard North girls/boys doubleheader wound down Jan. 21. Geneva public address announcer Jason Santo trumpeted the good news midway through the fourth quarter, sending a number of students scattering from their seats.

Most only missed about 45 seconds of clock time, as Glenbard North called a timeout shortly thereafter. Things only got better when the Vikings closed out the Panthers, 55-53, on a pair of Nate Navigato free throws in the final seconds.

Kevin Druley is a sportswriter for the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5347 or Follow him on Twitter at @kevindruley.

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