WOODSTOCK – Liam DeWane has gotten faster each year he has been swimming, breaking down numerous personal time barriers along the way. But when it became harder for him to drop time in some of his events this season, specifically the 500-yard freestyle, the Woodstock co-op senior began to worry.
“At the beginning of the season, [I] was getting around 5:50 in the 500,” DeWane said, “and I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to get my times down, and this meet settled those thoughts.”
He had his best meet of the season and his strong swims helped Woodstock co-op to a fourth-place finish with 475 points in Saturday’s sixth annual Mary Landa Invitational at Woodstock North. McHenry took first with 668 points in the seven-team invite.
DeWane finally saw some results after a lot of hard work in practice. He entered the 500 freestyle with a seed time of 5:38.46 and smashed that time by nearly 10 seconds, winning the 500 freestyle in 5:28.66.
The senior also shaved two seconds off his previous-best 100 backstroke time, placing second in 1:02.96. McHenry sophomore Josh Frost edged out DeWane for first place, touching in 1:02.42.
“Now I have the mentality that I can drop time,” DeWane said.
Although Frost won the backstroke event, he was more excited about his time. Like DeWane, he felt a wave of relief after breaking through what seemed to be a plateau. Frost said he was stuck around 1:06 all season before he dropped nearly four seconds Saturday.
“It was exhausting,” Frost said. “It was a really hard race. I was trying to get that underwater going and I was kicking really hard. My legs were dead after that race, but to drop that much time makes you realize you can do this.”
The Warriors were swimming with confidence and were impressive as a team Saturday as the invite worked to their advantage. The meet broke up most of the events into groups, separating the freshmen and sophomores from the juniors and seniors.
Stocked with a strong sophomore class, the Warriors scored a lot of points from their underclassmen, so it was fitting that all eyes were on the Warriors’ 200 freestyle relay as the team was divided, swimming for bragging rights.
The sophomore team of Kevin Braun, Trey Schopen, Jackson Smith and Frost won in 1:36.16, but the varsity relay of Matt Peck, Myles Lucas, Garrett Floden and Alex Becker finished about one second faster in 1:35.15 in the varsity group.
“Normally those relay teams are all mixed together, but it was different this time,” Lucas said. “There was a little rivalry between us and it was fun. Now we have some bragging rights.”
Although the Warriors had fun with the race, coach Craig Fowles was pleased with the times, which were encouraging in the late stages of the season.
One highlight that caught Fowles’ eye was in the 100 freestyle. Smith dropped nearly three seconds in the race, placing second in 52.07 behind Braun (50.57). Smith also won the 200 individual medley in 2:12.74.
“Jackson Smith had a great day and a lot of guys had personal bests,” Fowles said. “It’s good for them because at this point they’re sore and tired and you feel like you may have hit a wall and to drop time when feeling like that does a lot of good.”