Even after losing some of their top competitors to graduation, the Owensboro Catholic boys’ swim team entered this season with confidence after several years of building a successful foundation.
Co-head coaches Erica Crabtree and Abby Hampton said this year’s team is a strong mix of veterans and young swimmers, and they’ve been eager to carry on a winning tradition.
“We expected the boys’ team to be strong again this year,” Crabtree said. “We lost a few key members of the boys’ team last year, but with the addition of some new swimmers and some of our younger swimmers stepping up to the challenge of filling some big shoes, we have been able to remain on top. It is exciting to see this group of young men grow from one year to the next.”
The Aces recently dominated their way to yet another city-county title, helping Catholic earn the overall trophy for the sixth year in a row. The boys’ team won all but two events, providing an early look at what they might be able to accomplish at season’s end.
“Right now we are still celebrating our city-county combined title, but we are focusing on what we need to do for our group to be ready for regionals,” Crabtree said. “We hope to have several individuals make it to the state meet later in February. Our three relays should do well, too.”
Four upperclassmen are leading the team this year, including senior Warren Goetz.
“Warren is known to those on the team as coach Warren,” Crabtree said. “I have never seen a kid be more enthusiastic about another swimmer’s race than Warren. When he is not in the water swimming the 500, you can find him pacing along the pool deck cheering on one of his teammates.”
Fellow senior Jude Neal (50 free, 100 free) is another key leader for Catholic.
“He brings leadership, enthusiasm and the whatever-it-takes attitude to the team,” Crabtree said. “He is always reminding the others to take care of themselves both in and out of the water.”
Juniors Jack Raymer (200 free, 100 fly) and Cort Hobelmann (200 IM, 100 back) round out the strong core of swimmers for the Aces.
“Jack always takes the time to work with a younger swimmer, and his love for the sport really shows,” Crabtree said. “Cort is an amazing swimmer with a lot of talent. We expect great things from him, and his races are fun to watch.”
The constant support among team members and desire for each swimmer to get better has been a big key to success each year, and both coaches are hoping to see more of the same in the future.
“We believe that the willingness of long-term guys to help new ones learn the ins and outs of the sport — as well as the commitment of all the swimmers to do whatever it takes for the team — has contributed tremendously to our success,” Hampton said. “We are lucky to have a lot of talented swimmers and versatile athletes willing to try out the hardest sport around. All our swimmers make goals, and they know what it takes to achieve them.”