Serious business: Swimming is nothing to 'ho, ho, ho' about for … – Mansfield News Journal

ONTARIO – One thing Jacob Hathaway doesn’t miss about swimming at the high school level is Christmas break.
More like Christmas gimme a break.
Or as Ontario star Brie Trumpower said Tuesday night, “Christmas break is code for ‘hardest practices all year.’”
To call this the holiday season is mostly a misnomer for high school swimmers. It’s only a holiday if you like swimming for three hours straight in the morning and then coming back that evening for a meet against your biggest area rival.
That’s how Tuesday went for the Ontario Warriors, who have been on “break” since school ended last Friday. Their reward for sweeping Lexington at home – 51–43 on the girls side and 48-46 on the boys side – was coming back Wednesday morning for three more hours in the pool, followed by an hour of weight lifting and then an hour swim that night.
Hathaway remembers those days. A spectator this time around, it was just last year he took part in this pre-Christmas meet for Lex, getting in some work that would help lead to a storybook ending for his career.
Not only was he part of a repeat state champion 200 medley relay team, but he left Canton last February with medals in all four of his state meet events.
“It’s strange seeing this,” Hathaway said. “Yeah, it seems like forever (ago), but at the same time it’s like I was just here in this pool.”
Hathaway is now at Mount Union, swimming collegiately with his older brother Andrew and fellow freshman Lucas Starling, another member of those back-to-back state title-winning medley crews.
By the time he returns to school to embark on a nine-day training trip to Florida, Hathaway will have been home for two weeks. The Mount Union coaches ask only that their swimmers don’t fatten up like Santa during that time, so Hathaway has been swimming with his old team and on his own.
If it makes the high schoolers feel any better about their grueling workouts at this time of year, being off for a couple of weeks isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
“It’s nice to be home,” Hathaway said, “but after awhile, you’re like, OK, what do I do now? You don’t have practice. You don’t have school. (The coaches) just tell us to stay in shape.”
Lex still had one more day of school after Tuesday’s meet, and once that final bell rings it’s all hands (and feet) on the pool deck.
“I told them, (Wednesday) afternoon, be ready. We’re out of school. We’re going to hit the ground running,” coach Brock Spurling said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do. The kids know we’ve got a lot of work to do.
“We’ll finish the week strong. Next week is our big, heavy week. We’ll be at Bowling Green on our training trip and finish the week with a meet and then it’s January.”
The Lex boys have won five straight Division II district championships under Spurling and have finished in the top 10 at the state meet four years in a row. The biggest challenge will be overcoming the departure of Hathaway, Starling and Tanner Holmes, a third member of those two state champion relay teams, with only one senior on this season’s roster.
Last year, Ivan Prykhodko was the only new member on that repeat medley relay, and now he’s the only one back. And he’s a junior captain to boot, along with fellow junior Isaac McFadden.
“It (the captaincy) comes with a lot of work,” Prykhodko said. “I think I’ve been working way harder than I ever thought, just to lead everyone. Now I have to make up for the other strokes. Last year I just had to worry about the breaststroke, but now I’ve been working on my freestyle. I need to become more versatile (out of team necessity) this year.”
Prykhodko and his sister Katya, a freshman, swept the 100 breast in Tuesday’s meet. Ivan also collaborated with McFadden, sophomore Trey Nickoli and freshman Cooper Watters to win the medley, but believes that relay is probably a year away from reaching its true potential.
“A threepeat might be asking too much,” he said. “The goal I have in mind is winning districts. I think that’s very achievable. Next year we’ll worry about when our teammates have had a chance to mature a little bit. Cooper Watters, I highly believe, he’s going to be amazing next year. He’s already amazing this year.”
Lex and Ontario competed last weekend in the Northwest Ohio Classic at BG. The Warriors finished ninth on both the boys and girls sides. The Lex boys, hit hard by illness, were 14th.
Trumpower repeated in both of her sprints, breaking her own record in the 100 free (52.18) while also winning the 200 (1:55.74).
“I definitely had high hopes for the weekend, breaking some records and getting some best times,” she said. “It was a rough weekend for everyone because sickness is going around. It was definitely a mental challenge, so I was happy with those times considering the circumstances.
“I’m proud of the whole team for pushing through. They really motivated me to work harder.”
Trumpower, who recently became a University of Akron commit, has already broken a handful of school records this season, including the 100 backstroke Tuesday night (1:01.57). She owns school marks in every event but the breaststroke and diving and has a chance to finish her career with 15 All-Ohio citations (out of a possible 16 events).
She is the only member back from Ontario’s All-Ohio 200 and 400 free relay teams, but that didn’t stop those crews from finishing seventh and sixth, respectively, last weekend at BG. On Tuesday, she teamed with junior Haley Damron, sophomore Katie Bolin and freshman Grace Them to win the 400 free.
“It’s a whole new experience for me,” Trumpower said. “I was really nervous at the beginning of the season to do the whole leader thing. Shelby (Keever), Tiffany (Whittaker) and Ava (Ruhe) were all amazing leaders last year. I learned a lot from them and it’s hard to fill their shoes, but I’m learning slowly and all the girls make it easy because we all get along and there’s just a lot of talent.”
On the boys side at the Northwest Ohio Classic, Prykhodko was seventh in the 100 breast despite battling a bug and Ontario senior Alex Rose was fifth in the 100 butterfly, which is a fairly new event for him this year.
He shaved three seconds off his previous best for a 55.82 and has already topped his dad, Ron, on the school’s career Top 10 times board.
“I was hoping to make the fast heat, but that time was the best I could have asked for,” Rose said. “It’s the biggest (time) drop I’ve ever had. I decided, you know what, I’ll try something new, and it worked out. I also think I’ve gotten a lot stronger, just growing, and that’s helped a lot.”
Rose and fellow seniors Hunter Petit and Colin Cordrey were part of the 12th place 200 free relay team that jumped six spots in last year’s state prelims to guarantee All-Ohio honors.
“It helped give us the sense that ‘we belong here and we’re ready to go back,’” Rose said. “I think the atmosphere (at state) helps. When we got there, we were ready to go.”
Petit probably hates to see 2022 end. After earning All-Ohio in swimming, he joined the tennis team for the first time last spring, earning a doubles title to help the Warriors win the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference tournament.
Playing tennis made Petit appreciate how truly demanding swimming can be. His body has probably been telling him that for years.
“You’re swimming miles every day (in practice),” he said. “In tennis, you run a mile, at most, a day.”
Sophomore Logan Bernat, a state qualifier last year in the back and medley relay, replaces the graduated Evan Trumpower (Brie’s brother) on the free relays, joining Petit and the other two seniors.
“We lost Evan, but if all of us can go faster and Logan can drop a good time, we have a good shot of moving up in the rankings,” Petit said. “Right now, our times are faster than they were at conference and sectionals last year.”
Individual double winners Tuesday night included Rose in the 100 free (51.99) and 200 free (1:58.13), Cordrey in the 200 IM (2:11.78) and 100 fly (58.07), Bolin in the 200 free (2:12.25) and 500 free (5:49.85) and McFadden in the 50 free (24.70) and 500 free (5:42.47).
Ontario is looking for a clean sweep of the boys and girls titles in the MOAC for the third straight year and fourth time in five seasons. The girls team has won every league championship since Ontario joined the circuit for the 2017-18 school year.
“It’s kind of scary,” coach Debby Henry said. “A lot of our kids, boys and girls, are already at their best or faster than their best.”
No wonder Petit is confident in keeping that MOAC streak alive.
“I don’t think it will be that hard,” he said, speaking for the boys. “We have a bunch of fast swimmers, other than us four (on the free relays). I think we can win every event.”

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