Ames High Swimmers take second at state

Dynasties in high school sports are about as rare as the Cardinals going to the Super Bowl. The Ames High boys swim team is the definition of the dynasty. “We have only lost one duel meet in 8 years,” senior Steve Stark said. The swim teams only duel meet loss came in the senior class’ freshmen year to Valley high school. With approximately seventy-two duel meets with only one loss, Ames swimmers know how to win. In the past ten years, Ames has been among the top ten finishers at the state swim meet. They have won every conference and district swim meet in those same ten years. The begging question is, why is AHS swimming so dominant? The only reasonable answers are depth, hard work and a phenomenal coaching staff. Hard work for most sports includes a 14 week span of training and conditioning. For most Ames High swimmers, the season never ends. The boys train in the off season with the Ames Cyclone Aquatic Club (ACAC). Once the state meet ends on Saturday, the boys get back into the pool on Monday to train for winter club state. Spending all year together makes not only strong swimmers, but a strong team. “We have a closer group of guys than any other out there,” Stark said. The boys practice almost everyday of the year together. This all year swimming brotherhood creates a team that overwhelmingly challenges others. Ames’ depth is what makes the team so strong. The boys compete for coveted spots in their respective events. “The competitiveness hasn’t been a problem with our team as much as it has helped drive us in practice and at meets to try our best,” junior Taylor Kutchen said. Teammate versus teammate was sometimes the only competition the boys had. Three standouts in this past season led the team to a second place finish at the state meet. Seniors Steve Stark, Ben Utesch and Scott Strehlow were the perfect pieces for the Ames High leadership positions. “We grew up swimming together,” Stark said. The “big three” of Ames High Swimming scored the majority of points for Ames. Strehlow took fourth in the 200 yard freestyle, third in the 500 yard freestyle, anchored in the fourth place 200 yard freestyle relay and anchored the fourth place 400 yard freestyle relay. Utesch took second in the 100 yard butterfly, swam the backstroke leg in the medley relay, swam the 400 yard freestyle and won the 100 yard backstroke. Stark swam in all three relays and placed 8th in the 100 yard breaststroke. “We knew that at state meet we would need more than three people to come through for us,” Stark said. Luuk Dekkers placed in the top six in both the 200 yard freestyle and the 500 yard freestyle. He also led off the 400 yard freestyle. Jon Hagen and Rob Burke swam the butterfly and the breaststroke respectively in the medley relay. Dustin Ziminski was a member of the 200 yard freestyle relay and the 400 yard freestyle relay. Taylor Kutchen placed twelfth in the 200 individual medley. These swimmers all chipped in points for the second place finish. Coach Dan Flannery of eleven years led the spectacular group of boys to their runner up title. The boys only lost by five points. Debuque Senior edged Ames out with 152 to 147. Ames led the Rams by five points going into the final event. The Rams proved to be just too fast for Ames. This seemed to be Ames’ chance for glory but talent still lies in the pool. “No one else practices 10 times a week,” Stark said, “no one wakes up at 5:45 a.m. and practices the night after a meet.” This dedication to the sport will keep Ames on top for years to come. For Ames swimmers, swimming isn’t a sport, it’s a lifestyle. Click here to see more photos from the Ames High boys’ swim team.