The Addison Trail-Willowbrook Boys’ Swim Team swam a third-place finish at conference.
ATWB is headed by Willowbrook Math Teacher Jen Burns, who also acts as head coach for the Addison Trail-Willowbrook Girls’ Swim Team. She is assisted by the team’s new assistant coach, Mike Sampey.
The team consists of a collaboration between AT and sister school Willowbrook in part due to the lack of a swimming pool at either school. Instead of practicing at school, the team swims at the College of Dupage from 5:30pm-7:30pm Mon, Tues, Wed, and Thurs.
“We are practicing at the College of DuPage from 5:30-7:30 pm Mondays-Thursdays. The facility has eight lanes, starting blocks, and plenty of space for us to train. The boys were excited to try out this new practice facility,” said Burns.
The team does not have one “home pool” to gratify all their needs as a team, but they have learned to adapt.
“When we cannot train at the College of DuPage, we have used Club Fitness in Addison. Over winter break we also had an opportunity to use the aquatic center at York High School. Without our own training facility, we have learned to turn any facility into our “home” pool,” said Burns.
While the boys are happy to swim, they share how the season has changed with the ongoing pandemic.
“Swimming in the midst of a pandemic is still a hard thing to do. I won’t lie, it’s difficult at times to get up and swim when everything seems to be getting canceled and delayed, and teammates are out sick,” said captain Michal Niemirski.
Senior Matthew Burrow is the team’s only diver. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to swim and dive this season. I started diving for a year with the Addison Frogs, but high school swimming gave me the opportunity to try diving again.”
Niemirski shares his responsibilities as captain. “As captain of the team, I’m meant to represent the team at meets. If there’s a meeting with the officials, I’ll probably be there with the captains of other teams. Additionally, I’m in charge of mobilizing anything that the team might need. This might include money collection, event organization, or anything similar. As a captain, most importantly, you’re meant to encourage others to support each other and help unite,” said Niemirski.
Niemirski and Burrow are 2 of the team’s 3 seniors along with AT senior Gerald Legaspi.
“Our senior swimmers are Matthew Burrow, Gerald Legaspi, and Michal Niemirski. Matthew Burrow is also our team diver. Gerald’s specialty is the backstroke and the 200 freestyle. Michal is our sprinter specializing in the 50 free and the 100 free,” said Burns.
Along with the seniors, Burns notes sophomore Michael Sampey as one of the top swimmers.
“Michael Sampey is a sophomore and competes in the 200 individual medley and the 100 breaststroke,” said Burns.
The junior varsity team finished their season with conference, and each member of the team swam a personal best.
“This season I wanted the team to have a full high school swimming experience. Our junior varsity swimmers had a fantastic season and everyone swam a personal best time at the conference meet,” said Burns.
Burns hopes to recruit more swimmers and divers for the 2022-23 school year and advises prospective swimmers to join a summer swim team.
“The team hopes to recruit more swimmers over the summer to prepare for our 2022-2023 season. Anyone that is interested in joining the swim team should join a summer swim team to help learn the different competitive strokes. Our season does not start until November, so summer training is incredibly helpful. We also will need divers for next season. There are local diving programs to help you learn the fundamentals and see if this event is for you.”
She reminds students that summer programs are a beneficial way to create more friendships.
In the summer, the girls and boys have a chance to train together in their summer programs. It is a great way to get to know other people at your school and create lifelong friendships.”
The ATWB Boys’ sectional team will compete on Feb 19 at East Leyden.