Falcons eyeing ninth straight title in the pool.Posted: Updated:
At Catalina Foothills the expectations are simple, high, but simple. The Falcons don't have a laundry list of goals. No, they have one simple goal: win state.
In fact, both the girls and boys have won eight consecutive state titles and are again the favorites to add an unprecedented ninth championship banner to the school.
The boys team returns a ton of talent, including Herbie Behm, the defending champion in both the 50 and 100 freestyle. Also back is TJ Lundstrom, who won the 100 backstroke.
"On the guys side we are going to be tough," said Head Coach RJ Lundstrom. "I am really confident that we can take state."
In addition to the two state champions the Falcon boys return solid performers like Roger Miesfald, Steven Ernsky, Rhett Wallace, Cole Puchi and Max Glick.
Likewise, they do not lose too much, though replacing J.J. Lubinski and Blake Hoge will not be easy to do.
The girls have a bigger challenge. They lost a number of good swimmers, including Abby Corcoran who finished 2nd in the 50 free and third in the 100 free.
"It is going to be a challenge this year," said Lundstrom. "We lost, especially on the girls side, some key seniors and some leadership there."
That does no mean they are bereft of talent. Karima Chuk is the defending state champion in the 500 freestyle and was second in the 200 freestyle.
Although they lost a number of seniors, they do return a lot of young swimmers, including no fewer than seven who qualified for the finals in state last season and will be looking for good things from Alaina Kirkpatrick, Kiki Hoclender, Hope Nakazato and Olivia Luko among others.
"These are people we are really going to count on to step up and provide leadership for our team," Lundstrom said.
Both the boys and the girls have some young faces coming in who should also be able to help, whether they are swimmers who are new to the program, or just returners who lack experience.
"We have some people coming in who we are going to depend on stepping up and who we expect to shine," noted Lundstrom.
The secret of Foothills' success has been to attract top club swimmers. Unlike some programs which have to hunt for and develop new swimmers, Foothills gets athletes who grew up in the pool.
The Falcons work so closely with the clubs that most of their swimmers practice with their clubs during the season. With times, not meet results being the benchmark for state, hard work, not team work, is what propels a club towards the state meet.
"The development of the swimmers really occurs at the club level around town," he explained. "Between teams like El Dorado, Ford Aquatics and Ventana Canyon, they really help develop swimmers who come to Foothills that are ready to compete."
One might wonder how swimmers from rival club teams can come together and form a cohesive unit? Lundstrom says that despite naturally competitive rivalries, the Falcon athletes have no trouble with team unity.
"The tradition of winning, camaraderie, of team is really developed by the people who are here" Lundstrom explained. "It is important to them. Even though they all swim on separate clubs, when they come together as Foothills it is important."
Lundstrom is in his second season with the program. He came from the club level and is still a club coach when he is not guiding the Falcons.