February 18, 2012
Schultz out from behind Gordon's shadow
DeKALB – By almost all accounts, DeKalb swimmer Ryan Schultz had a memorable freshman season last year.
He improved throughout the season, and DeKalb-Sycamore co-op coach Leah Eames said that by the end of the year, he approached the state cut mark in the 100-yard breaststroke.
But swimming the same stroke as last year’s Daily Chronicle Swimmer of the Year, Michael Gordon, it was a year for Schutlz to watch and learn.
“It’s hard not to acknowledge that he was also in the shadow of Michael Gordon for his entire freshman year, especially in the breaststroke,” Eames said. “That was always Michael’s stroke.”
This year, that spot has belonged to Schultz. The sophomore will use what he learned from watching Gordon in today’s St. Charles North Sectional, which begins at 1 p.m.
“I learned just to keep cool,” Schultz said. “He was never showing his emotions so just keep cool and swim hard and in practice and your taper will get you there.”
Schultz is 0.32 seconds from the state cut line of 1:01.28 in the 100 breaststroke. In an environment expected to be loud throughout the talent-heavy sectional, keeping one’s cool could be the difference between making it to the state meet and not.
Schultz’s teammate, senior Kei Ishimaru, knows that environment well. A veteran of multiple sectionals and state meets, he tries to help Schultz stay calm before events.
“Ryan’s a really capable swimmer. I love his character out of the water and in the water,” Ishimaru said. “He shows, sometimes, uneasiness by the block right before his races. So being there supporting him and being mentally strong, telling him, ‘Hey, you love interviews. You’re going to get a heck of an interview if you get the state cut.’ “
For Ishimaru, the state cut today is the minimum goal. A favorite for the sectional crown in the 100 butterfly, Ishimaru said he’s aiming for 51 seconds in the finals today, which would be a season best and beat the state cut mark by more than two seconds.
DeKalb-Sycamore’s confidence was buoyed by a second-place finish at the Independent Conference meet two weeks ago.
“We swam really well as a team. Everybody dropped lots of time,” Schultz said. “That’s a good sign.”
Several swimmers hit season-bests with no rest or tapering designed specifically for the postseason.
“If I’m working this hard and this is what’s paying off, then if I work harder, I’ll get even better,” Ishimaru said. “It just makes me want to do more in practice.”
Today, they’ll find out if that extra rest pays off.
“Nothing’s really impossible with these guys,” Eames said. “Even my standards and my expectations, which I think are usually higher. I definitely expect a lot of high things from these guys, but they always take that and surpass that.”