By Terry Jacoby/weloveannarbor.com
Having a couple of standout swimmers certainly helps put a team high up on the board at a swimming meet. But to put that team at the top requires a total team effort where every turn counts and every touch creates points.
Skyline Coach Maureen Isaac says her team won the Division 1 state finals earlier this month on the back of a few strong front-line swimmers. But everyone on the Eagles helped contribute to the team’s 274 points at Eastern Michigan University as Skyline defeated second-place Holland West Ottawa (207).
For example, Ben Keith getting into the finals of the 100 butterfly and Sam Konigsberg getting into the finals of the backstroke were key strokes to the state title.
“If those things don’t happen it’s a whole different ballgame,” Isaac said. “It was great to score a ton of points in the IM and the 500 free.”
Junior Keith Kozma getting into the final and the consolation of the 200 also was huge.
“Those were really gutsy swims on Friday (prelims) by guys that don’t get all the headlines but deserve a ton of credit,” Isaac said. “Those are the swims that put us in a really good position.”
Let’s meet three of those younger swimmers who helped put the Eagles over the top and into the top spot at the D-1 State Finals:
NAME: Atticus Dewey
Club team: Club Wolverine for about eight years
Future plans after HS: “While I don’t know which college I’m going to go to yet, I know that I want to study medicine (specifically cardiovascular surgery). Cardiovascular surgery is very similar to swimming in the way that you’re racing against the clock, always trying to save the person using the best techniques, while staying efficient, as possible.”
What was it like to win a state championship? “It was an exhilarating experience, one that I will cherish forever. The people on this team care deeply about each other and the bonds that have been formed through Skyline Swim and Dive will remain wherever people decide to go to college. While I was in the moment, I was overjoyed, overcome with happiness as I got to be part of the team that won the first Division 1 State Championship title for Skyline High School.”
What were the keys to Skyline’s success? “I would say the biggest key to Skyline’s success is the amount of care we have for each other. Regardless of how we swam that day, we would cheer for each other until our voices were nothing but a whisper. Even though we weren’t able to hear the cheering while we swam, the thought that our team had enough faith in us to succeed is what motivated us to success.”
What was the personality of this team? “The personality of the team is like that of siblings. We constantly make fun of each other and give each other hard times, but when it comes to where we need to support each other, we’ll be rushing to the side of the pool before anyone else around. We’re family to each other, and we treat each other as such.”
Goals for next year? “My goals for next year are to help motivate more underclassmen and people, in general, achieve their own goals (such as making it to the state meet, making it to SEC finals, etc.), but personally, I hope to make it to the A finals next year, and really help Skyline Swim and Dive achieve another state title, which I promise you it will. Skyline will train, it will cheer, it will force itself through all odds to make another state title for itself, no matter how long it takes.”
NAME: Ben Keith
Club team: Club Wolverine for eight years
Future plans after HS: “Possibly swim for a college, but I’m still uncertain.”
What was it like to win a state championship? “Winning the State Championship was a bit surreal in the beginning because one moment the meet was going on, and the next moment we were on the podium holding the 1st place trophy. It didn’t quite hit me until I was at home that we were the first men’s swim team in Skyline history to win the state championship.”
What were the keys to Skyline’s success? “Our coaches Mojo, Andy, Stu and Kent were all a huge part of our victory. About halfway through the season, a lot of people were quitting the team or just unsure of how they were going to move through the rest of the season. Mojo ended up giving a great speech which really rallied the team and gave us the momentum to push through the rest of the season.”
What was the personality of this team? “We were all very happy, very confident, but also very nervous because we all knew we had a good chance of winning, but we still worried that we could mess up. Messing up could have cost us points, although, in the end, it didn’t matter because we were very proud of how we swam.”
Why has Skyline been so good in swimming over the years? “Because we are a newer school (10 years old) we haven’t had as much time to build up our athletics, and find the right balance for everything. Now that the school has a decade under its belt, our sports have begun to mature and we have found really great coaches, and we are able to use the new and high-quality equipment. Whether that is in the weight room or in the pool. Our team is also getting bigger. Because we have been successful more and more people are interested in our program.”
What are your goals for next year? “Our goal as a team to get more people on the state team (or swim team in general), win states again, and just keep improving. A personal goal is to place 7th or higher next year in the 100 butterfly because I was 8th this year.”
NAME: Keith Kozma
Club team: DCAC (Dexter)
Future plans after HS: “I would like to pursue engineering.”
What was it like to win a state championship? “It was great to see all of our hard work pay off; the Skyline program definitely deserves it.”
What were the keys to Skyline’s success? “Understanding the importance of the team aspect of the sport.”
What was the personality of this team? “Very determined to be the best.”
Why has Skyline been so good in swimming over the years? “Dedication and good swimming habits.”
Goals for next year? “Continue to get faster, see the program grow, and pass this energy on to future swimmers.”