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1989 Swimming Team (2006)

The number scrawled across the chalkboard at poolside bore the unmistakable hand of Coach Peter Schrock. The message for the day was simple and direct: 10,000 yards. There was no need for further explanation. The Loyola swimmers who had gathered that day knew that todayÕs practice would test them, physically and mentally, like no other. They knew one other thing: this was the only way to greatness. The 1989 Swimming and Diving Team is arguably the most accomplished team in LoyolaÕs swimming history, challenging in greatness the National Catholic Championship teams of the 1960s. Led by senior co-captain and All-American sprinter Erik Maurer, Loyola claimed the second-place trophy at the IHSA state finals, its runner-up finish the highest ever for a Rambler swim team. Certainly on that day success tasted sweet, but the road to that awards podium had proved long and difficult. Swimming is the essence of individual competition. Water muffles the cheers of the crowd, and goggles create near tunnel-vision. In swimming, the athlete strives for personal perfection, with a digital clock as the only gauge of his performance. The 1989 Aqua-Rambler squad not only achieved many personal bests, but also found success and victory in another dimension of the sport: teamwork. The camaraderie born of early morning workouts, long bus rides, and late nights fueled the teamÕs motivation to win. The effects of team unity began to show at the yearÕs first meet, the Bronco Relays, held at Barrington High School. The Loyola fulmen in aqua battled for a second place finish, soundly defeating the first place St. Charles team. Their next meet pitted the Ramblers against arch-rival Fenwick, who had dominated the Catholic League for years. Though the Ramblers fell two points short of an enormous upset, they had made a statement. Teams which had won easily for years now had to work harder, and they could not take Loyola for granted. The varsity squad reinforced this in the minds of swimmers statewide over Christmas break. Having trained hard five hours a day over Òvacation,Ó the Aqua-Ramblers came from behind at the Naperville North College Events meet, turning a deficit of 26 points into a victory of 20 points -- thrilling for the fans, no doubt, shocking to the audience, perhaps, but by no means a surprise to the superbly trained swimmers. The Ramblers continued their statement-making performances at the Evanston Relays, capturing first place in front of their former coach and displaying once again their enormous improvement under Peter ÒI may work you too hard, but thatÕs just the way I amÓ ShrockÕs coaching. Victories and records followed the swimmers wherever they went. At the New Trier Relays, the Loyola 400-freestle relay astounded everyone with its first place finish. Mere dominance was not enough for the relay team of Erik Maurer, Greg Maurer, Brian Tedeschi, and Garrett WoodwardÑthey also set a New Trier pool record and had the fastest time of any team in the state. This meet had always been regarded as a crucial point in the season, and Loyola performed brilliantly in anticipation of the big meets on the horizon. Loyola dominated the state sectional competition with 270 points, easily outdistancing New Trier for the sectional title. In the 100-yard freestyle, superstar Erik Maurer shattered the pool record and recorded the best qualifying time in the state with a time of 45.85 seconds. One week later at the state championship meet at Evanston High School, the Ramblers, fueled by months of hard work and carried by the momentum of the best season any swimmer could remember, raced past its wildest expectations. Mic Burns grabbed crucial points with an upset for eighth place in the 100-yard backstroke, having fully recovered from his broken hand. Greg Maurer took third place after the twenty grueling laps of the 500-yard freestyle. Erik Maurer dominated in both the 200-free and 100-yard freestyle races, setting a state record of 1:37.54 in the 200 finals, a record which still stands today. Maurer went on to top even this performance as the anchor of the 400-yard freestyle relay, when he took Loyola from last place to the gold medal with one of the greatest relay legs in Illinois history. This relay team of Brian Tedeschi, Garrett Woodward, Greg Maurer, and Erik Maurer pushed Loyola ahead of two other teams to finish second in the state, the teamÕs best performance ever and its only state trophy. ÒWeÕve been talking about being the best team in Loyola history,Ó said Erik Maurer. ÒNow we are.Ó

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