Boys swimming places second in section finals

Three swimmers advance to state

Lilia Gonzalez

Park achieved its goal of getting second place at section finals Feb. 26 despite high competition and no diving points, according to senior captain Andre Barajas.

“(It’s) already a pretty hard goal because we’re going against Edina, but also because we don’t have diving. All the other teams get extra points and we don’t,” Barajas said. “We ended up getting second and I think it was really because all the team stepped up. We had a lot of the younger guys swim their hardest and place on the podium.”

Coach Joe Yaeger said the team was excited to put in its maximum efforts to push towards state championships. 

“I (don’t) think (any)body was like ‘we have to go faster’, everyone just wanted to make sure they gave 100 percent for everybody,” Yaeger said. 

According to senior captain Hiro McKee, he was very satisfied with the outcome of Sections, taking into consideration the amount of work the team has put into the season. 

“It went fantastic. We all worked very hard,” McKee said. “Two hours a week every day. A lot of work was put in and we got a lot out of it. Overall, everyone is happy.”

The energy that came with Sections positively affected how the team performed, according to Barajas, and pushed the team to work hard. 

“The atmosphere really helped me go out and swim fast because everyone was really supportive of each other and everyone was hyping each other up,” Barajas said. “Getting to see teammates succeed in their events really kind of helps you be like, ‘Oh, I’m going to go out super fast and I’m going to do well.’”

Given the fact that only some Park swimmers would advance to state, McKee said he didn’t see Sections as competition with his teammates.

“I never think of it as going against my teammates,” McKee said. “I always feel as if I’m pushing my teammates because we’re competing for the same goal to hopefully win the meet.” 

Two hours a week every day. A lot of work was put in and we got a lot out of it. Overall, everyone is happy

— Hiro McKee

A highlight for Barajas was seeing a large number of his teammates make it to the podium, especially during the 500-Freestyle. 

“It was four Edina guys and three St. Louis Park guys,” Barajas said. “So it’s really fun to see that we had so many people on the podium when we really usually only have one or two people.”

McKee, who will be advancing to state and swimming the 200 Individual Medley and 100 Butterfly, said he is disappointed that this will be his last State tournament, it will be a bittersweet moment, but he is overall looking forward to competing. 

“Knowing that this is going to be my last year going to state is a little sad but at the same time, I’m very excited because I’ve never swam two individual events at state before,” McKee said. 

Yaeger said the next week will be dedicated to preparing Barajas, McKee and junior Miles Nordling for state championships March 4. 

“We will start over and crank their yards back up, and then taper until state,” Yager said. 

State Preliminaries will take place March 4 at Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center and finals will be March 5.