SHORELINE — There’s always potential for a little rust when teams hit the pool for their first meet after winter break.
That wasn’t the case for the Jackson High School boys swim and dive team Tuesday.
Competing for the first time since Dec. 17, 2019, Jackson came out of the gates strong, earning a first-place finish in the 200-yard medley relay to open the meet, and never looked back, delivering a simply dominant performance with top finishes in each swimming event against a short-handed Shorewood squad to earn a 127-52 victory in a Wesco South clash between unbeatens at Shoreline Pool.
“We’ve had a two-and-a-half, three-week layoff. A lot of kids traveling,” Timberwolves coach Drew Whorley said. “So this week is kind of trying to bring everyone back together. Seeing us come together, I thought we put together some really good races, some really good relays. For where we’re at right now and the type of swimming we’ve been doing the last couple weeks, I thought we had a good day.”
The Thunderbirds (4-1, 4-1 Wesco South) were without their top two swimmers, senior captains Cole Nouwens (injury) and Ryan Reid (illness), leaving Shorewood with the tall task of trying to knock off one of Wesco South’s perennial league powers without its only returning non-diving state qualifiers.
“(Jackson is) traditionally really fast and had a lot of success as a team,” Shorewood coach Jeremy Hunter said. “We like that. We like opportunities to race. Guys were pushed today on our team. That’s good for us. We learn a lot from that. I thought they responded very well. We had great times from guys who were suddenly swimming races and anchoring relays and were maybe in lanes that they weren’t necessarily used to being in.
“It was a great growth opportunity for us. The team performed pretty well. You know, you gotta tip your cap to Jackson. They’re a great team.”
After topping Shorewood’s second-place 200 freestyle relay team, Jackson (4-0) earned a one-two finish in the 200 freestyle and one-two-three finishes in the 200 individual medley and 50 freestyle — highlighted by Justin Limberg’s impressive victory in the 200 individual medley. The Timberwolves’ standout senior bested his closest competitor by nearly 20 seconds with a Class 4A state-qualifying time of 1 minute, 57.33 seconds in his first attempt at the race this season.
Shorewood nabbed its first and only top finish with a stellar diving performance by senior Isaac Poole, the 2019 3A state runner-up in the event, who delivered a number of impressive dives. Poole finished 232.2 points in front of his nearest competitor with a six-dive total of 375.8.
“Just an incredibly gifted guy,” Hunter said of Poole. “You know, four-year contributor to the program, swims as well, embraces opportunities to show leadership and then he’s just phenomenal when he’s diving. We always love watching him perform.”
After Poole secured the Thunderbirds’ a top finish in diving, Jackson picked up where it left off before in the swimming events and captured a one-two finish in the 100 butterfly, with Daniel Teoh leading the way with a first-place time of 1:00.47.
It was all Timberwolves from there on out as Alex Georgiev (100 freestyle), Jensen Elsemore (500 freestyle), Braden Thompson (100 backstroke) and Limberg (100 breaststroke) all picked up individual victories. Jackson’s 200 and 400 freestyle relay teams earned top finishes as well.
Georgiev and Elsemore also were top finishers in the 50 freestyle and 200 freestyle, respectively.
“I’m excited for where we’re at,” Whorley said. “Again, swim and dive season is just so interesting because you’ve got a couple breaks built in with Thanksgiving and Christmas, so now we’re five weeks away from kind of the end of the season and districts.
“I’m looking forward to just spending time together with the team and just competing with the team and watching that energy and momentum build for the end of the season and see what we can do.”
Limberg, the 2019 4A state runner-up in the 100 breaststroke, also produced a 4A state-qualifying time in his signature event with a mark of 1:00.50.
Elsemore (200 freestyle, 500 freestyle), Ryan Wang (200 freestyle, 50 freestyle), Georgiev (50 freestyle, 100 freestyle), Bastien Orbigo (100 freestyle, 100 breaststroke) and Thompson (100 backstroke) all earned 4A state-qualifying times.
Shorewood’s John Beres achieved 3A state-qualifying times in the 100 and 200 freestyle.
Both squads achieved state-qualifying times in their respective classifications in all three relay events.