By Justin Sokeland
BEDFORD – Want a big-splash adventure? Follow Bedford North Lawrence boys swimming this winter.
The Stars, with talent and depth on the roster, intend to make waves on the sectional level, perhaps even the state plateau, during the 2019-20 campaign. They’re poised on the board, about to cannonball in the deep end.
With a Division I recruit, with five veterans wet with state finals experience, with freshmen expanding the talent pool, BNL has ambitious goals: regain the sectional championship and challenge the elite at the highest level.
“It’s not outside the realm of possibility to be top 15 in the state,” BNL coach Terry Tlustek said. “In the best-case scenario, top 10 – if everyone can make that big jump from sectional to state.”
Tlustek’s optimism starts at the top with senior Andrew Swenson, who has verbally committed to Purdue. Swenson broke two school records while qualifying for the state finals in the 100-yard backstroke (finishing 9th in his specialty) and 200 individual medley, and he was a key member of two relays that reached the state meet.
That’s not a bad springboard. But there’s more.
Senior freestyler Jacob Werley is back to compete in the 100 and 200 after winning sectional titles in both events last year. Alexander Swenson was a sectional champion in the 500 free, while senior Dayson Sorrells and sophomore John Allen helped the Stars reach the state finals in two relays.
“They are the backbone guys,” Tlustek said. “They are the core we work from.”
The difference this season with be sheer numbers. BNL had only 9 swimmers available in the sectional, yet still nearly edged Jasper for the team crown. This time they have 13 in the water, plus two divers.
“The only reason we lost sectional last year was lack of depth,” Tlustek said. “If this team can continue to build on what we did last year, there’s no question in my mind we can do it.
“John has a done a lot more in the offseason to get ready and be prepared. Dayson has gone to camps and learned some techniques, and we have some good underclassmen with some experience. They will greatly help with the depth aspect.”
Adam Tlustek and Garrett Henson, plus the addition of three freshmen and cross country runner Isaac Williams, will allow Tlustek to fill all the events with competitive personnel.
Skyler Bates, a regional qualifier last season, will be the lead diver, although that part of the team took a hit when Justice Woods suffered a knee injury in football and required surgery.
Tlustek will also adjust the training schedule with an eye on the final step. In the past, the Stars have tapered to peak physically for the sectional, falling off the following week for the IHSAA finals.
“We’re going to try to do things differently this year,” he said. “We’ll start the taper a bit later to have more when they get to the state.”
BNL will start the season with a home meet against Edgewood on Nov. 26.