New-look Iowa City West swimmers embrace tradition, high expectations

New-look Iowa City West swimmers embrace tradition, high expectations
  1. New-look Iowa City West swimmers embrace tradition, high expectations
    CEDAR RAPIDS — When a boys’ swimming team graduates 85 percent of their points from a state runner-up squad, one might expect a significant drop-off. The Iowa City West Trojans seek to... …
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CEDAR RAPIDS — When a boys’ swimming team graduates 85 percent of its points from a state runner-up squad, one might expect a significant drop-off.

The Iowa City West Trojans seek to dispel that notion with a splash of experience, a few new faces, but the same reliable formula — fast swimming.

“A lot of people, I know, are thinking or have thought that we are done this year,” West junior Lane Griffis said. “It’s a lot of pressure to show them that, ‘Hey, we are not done. You actually still have to watch out for us because we’re just as fast.’”

Griffis is one of two returning individual state qualifiers for ninth-ranked West (4-0, 3-0 Mississippi Valley Conference), which visits No. 10 Cedar Rapids Washington (5-1, 4-0) in a dual Tuesday at 6 p.m.

“All of our guys, top to bottom, love to race,” first-year West Coach Byron Butler said. “The Wash guys love to race. They’ve been a perennial powerhouse for years and years.”

The Trojans graduated three Division-I collegiate swimmers in Mark McGlaughlin, Aidan Keen and Will Scott, who combined for 30 state gold medals and two team state championships. Butler – a former Iowa swimmer and two-year head coach of the West girls’ team – is in his first season as boy’s head coach after Rob Miecznikowski was hired at St. Ambrose.

“He’s awesome,” Griffis said. “He’s helped me a lot.”

Butler has constructed the new-look West roster around Griffis — a 500-yard freestyle and breaststroke swimmer — and a quartet of returning relay state qualifiers in sprinters Noah Bruns and Brennon Keen, plus Nassim Adu-Dagga (backstroke) and Ben Berhow (breaststroke). After being out of the water for nearly nine months, coveted football recruit Oliver Martin debuted at the Nov. 29 season-opener and posted a state-best 21.19-second time in the 50-yard freestyle. Martin’s 21.02 against rival Iowa City High two weeks later remains first in the state this season.

“All of these guys are putting it on themselves and swimming for each other,” Butler said. “And that is what I want. That’s what makes a good team.”

Senior breaststroke swimmer Sam Deyak and junior sprinter Ethan McAreavy have provided additional point-scoring options for Butler, and a pair of freshmen have also turned heads. Distance swimmer Tate Happel is threatening team-best times in the 200 freestyle and the 500, while…

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