Redhawks show their versatility
By NEIL SHALIN For Sun-Times Media Sep 10, 2010
Updated: September 17, 2010 8:18PM
Naperville Central swimming coach Sue Welker loves swimmers who also play water polo.
"They're tough chicks," said Welker about the girls who play the aquatic team sport. "They're great athletes, they're aggressive and they have the mental strength to try different things. Give me a whole team of water polo players."
In August, four Redwings who competed against the best in the United States in an under-16 national water polo club tournament on the west coast as members of the West Suburban Water Polo Club, took a few days off and went right into the high school swimming season.
Three juniors Emily Sejna, Julia Campbell and Abbey Kerth and sophomore Madison Nervig, were ready to go when swimming started.
"In water polo, we do a lot of treading and legwork," Sejna said. "So we needed the yardage and the work on technique. My arms get more worked out through swimming."
"The water polo players need more total body training to get them ready for our season," Welker said. "We have to get them ready to swim a variety of strokes. And we have to get them symmetrical in upper body strength and working on their weaker throwing arm. Also, swimming is fast with the head down, so we work on body and head position in the water."
Another big thing the water polo players bring to the pool is a strong team-sport attitude, which is especially important because swimming is an individual sport with a big teamwork component on the high school varsity level.
"We know what it is to succeed as a team and that's important to us," Sejna said. "We try to use our spirit and enthusiasm to encourage all the other girls."
In the name of building team spirit, Welker, who employs a variety of training methods to keep her swimmers and divers upbeat and enthusiastic, took the entire team, coaching staff included, on a triathlon around the Naperville area on Labor Day.
"We try to do a lot of things together to build team unity," Welker said. "On Labor Day, we swam in our pool and then rode bicycles on the trails around town and went on a run. In August, we took everyone into Chicago on the train and went for an open water swim at Ohio Street Beach. We try to use a lot of variety to keep everyone enthusiastic."
Strong start: If the early season is any indication, Benet's girls swim team is on its way to a big season.
The Redwings, who do not have a home pool and alternate among three different training sites, were big winners in their first two dual meets against Mother McAuley and Downers Grove South.
"Everybody's working hard and the girls are pushing each other to do better," said first-year coach Sarah Maggio. "A lot of girls swam their best times and they know the times will continue to drop as the season goes on. They're really competing and the two wins set the tone for the season."
At Mother McAuley on Sept. 1, Benet won every race but the 100-yard backstroke.
The Redwings are getting outstanding performances and solid leadership from proven state qualifiers such as veterans such as Maddi Webb, Tori Bertschy, Katelyn Katsafanas, Cristina Favia and Allison Pavlik.
This year, Benet has been training at the Oak Brook Park District Pool, Esplanade Health Club in Downers Grove and Naperville North High School.
The Redwings practice at Naperville North on Sunday morning from 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. and Maggio gives them Mondays off.
"It's a beautiful facility and we're really thankful to Brian Pour and everyone at Naperville North for treating us so well," Maggio said. "Everyone is really great, and we thank them a thousand times over."