Central swimming is No. 1 in the nation

By Pamela Lannom

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For the first time in more than half a century, the Hinsdale Central boys swimming and diving program is the best in the nation.

The team, which won the state and sectional championships, earned 702.14 points to capture the No. 1 ranking in the list compiled by Swimcloud. The Bolles School (Jacksonville, Fla.) followed with 697.55 points and Loyola High School (Los Angeles) with 688.43 points.

Varsity head coach Bob Barber told The Hinsdalean last week he was still in awe.

"It's unbelievable," he said. "We started acknowledging the potential of it between Friday and Saturday of state. We were mostly concerned with the usual suspects of Bolles and Carmel (Ind.) and we kind of, for the first time in my career, started watching other teams' performances outside of the state of Illinois as we were finishing up our state meet."

The race to the No. 1 ranking spot also helped fuel the swimmers in their state meet contests.

"It's always to motivate the kids," Barber said. "They break a state record on Friday and we're like, 'Congratulations - but you're not the fastest in the nation.' How do you even go about saying those things without cracking a joke or a smile? That's how talented these guys really were."

Central graduate Andrew Fix said the team anticipated capturing the top spot but couldn't be sure until the list was released.

"We all knew it was coming," he said. "We had done the math in our heads and we were all pretty sure we had won - unless all of our math was wrong. When I saw it, it was a huge sigh of relief."

Fix, who served as a team captain, said as a freshman he not only didn't understand how to score a state meet, he wasn't good enough to swim in a state lineup.

"Knowing that I was part of one of the greatest teams of all time is such a surreal feeling," Fix said. "That doesn't just happen to everyone - or even anyone. Especially to be the captain. I'm definitely proud of the swimming and how I swam, but the team culture me and my fellow captains built, I'm much prouder of that."

The last Central time a team was ranked No. 1 in the country was in 1970, under coach Don Watson - the man for whom Hinsdale Central's new aquatic center was named.

Watson led the team to 12 straight state titles from 1967-78.

"They had Olympians and gold medalists on that team, though," Barber said. "This is a total team effort. There is no way that any one person could have carried us to that title."

And the swimmers didn't do it alone.

"We passed some more talented swimming teams by having a talented diving team to go alongside us," Barber said.

Given the program's success over the years, some might not realize the significance of this achievement.

"They haven't done it in 53 years," Barber said. "It's a special, special time."

Author Bio

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean