By Randy Whalen
A busy week for the Joliet West girls' swimming team kicked off this past Tuesday, Sept. 12 with a trip to face an excellent Lockport Township team.
The Tigers wouldn't have it any other way.
While Lockport won the dual meet 119-64, Joliet West, which is made up of both Joliet Central and West athletes, showed improvement in what would be the first of its three competitions for the week. The Tigers were in three meets in the first three weeks of the season, and then had three meets in five days this week.
"This is usually where we are swimming for sectional," Joliet West coach Nick Koenig said of being at Lockport. "We don't know yet for sure if we will be here for the sectional (Lockport is hosting but the assignments wouldn't be out until Sept. 15).
"Either way, we are progressing. Going up against Lockport, which is a program that we strive to be lik. We had some good races and are working on that level to compete with them. We have a busy week with a dual meet at Riverside-Brookfield (on Thursday, Sept. 14), and then at the Lincoln-Way West Warrior College Events (on Saturday, Sept.16)."
The Lincoln-Way West Invite is as advertised, where the distances are longer and the races are college length.
The Tigers tuned up for those races with some nice performances at Lockport, winning four of the 12 varsity races and coming a close second in some others.
Erin Mosier won two events. The sophomore had a first-place time of 2 minutes: 24.35 seconds in the 200-yard individual medley. and also won with a time of 1:15.28 in the 100-yard breaststroke. Junior Abigail Mosier captured the 100-yard butterfly by over five seconds with a mark of 1:03.70 and sophomore Ava Gombosi won the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 1:04.17.
"This year has gone a lot better than my freshman year," said Gombosi, who had been swimming since she was six. "Lockport has a lot of fast girls and it's good to go against them. But what I like about swimming is that it's timed and there's a winner based on that. It can come down to milliseconds and you want to always improve.
"I'm enjoying being with the team and training hard every practice. I'm hoping to make it to state, I just have to keep improving."
Gombosi (56.90 seconds) placed second in the 100-yard freestyle, just missing first by 4-hundredths of a second. Also finishing second individually for the Tigers was Abigail Mosier (26.26 seconds) in the 50-yard freestyle. Another underclassman who did well for Joliet was freshman Lila Abbott, who placed second (2:08.09) in the 200-yard freestyle and was also second (5:41.99) in the 500-yard freestyle.
In the relays, the Joliet foursome of Gombosi, Erin Mosier, Abigail Mosier, and senior Emily Johnson (1:59.03) just missed first by less than half of a second in the 200-yard medley relay. In the 200-yard freestyle relay, Abigail Mosier, Johnson, freshman Amelia Miller, and Abbott placed second with a time of 1:49.67.
By comparison to many, Johnson started her swimming career late, not being in the sport until she was nine. Now she's a veteran.
"Now I teach kids how to swim," Johnson said. "I like the sprint events the best. I like the thrill and how if you hold your breath and spin your arms over and over it's finished before you know it.
"It's exciting to come to Lockport and swim against some faces that we know. I recognized some of them and there's a swimming bond that you always have from the past. I've been injured during swimming season in the past. So I'm hopeful to finish out this season with no more injuries. Also to get some PRs and be healthy for the sectional."
As the season schedule picks up, the Tigers plan to with their performance too.
"Erin Mosier did a great job by winning the IM and 100-yard breaststroke," Koenig said. "Emily Johnson is our senior captain. She's been swimming well and leading the team work ethic. We just have to continue that."