A change in the water

Longtime Fenwick swim coach steps into assistant's role

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By BRAD SPENCER

Luke McGuire. Where have you heard that name before?

If the name sounds familiar that's because McGuire was a member of the Fenwick boys swimming team that won the IHSA State Meet in 1990. The Fenwick alum who went on to swim at the University of Wisconsin has now been handed head coaching duties of the boys program by Dave Perry, who spent 20 years at the position while leading the Friars to three state championships (1990, '91, '92), a runner-up spot ('93) and a third-place finish ('05), not to mention numerous top 10 finishes in that span. Don't fret, Perry isn't going anywhere.

"It's simply time for a younger person in there," said Perry, winner of the Illinois Swimming Association Coach of the Year Award in 2005. "I'm still an assistant coach. Luke just has to make all the really difficult decisions now, while I can relax."

Perry, who said he has no plans to fork-over head coaching duties of the boys water polo team, steered the Friars to a respectable 12th-place finish at state last season. McGuire, who has been assisting Perry with swimming, water polo and Fenwick's club swimming teams, could be in for quite a learning experience this season. The Friars will be without the services of last year's top performers Tom Parolin, Mike Mackin, Luke Baldwin, John Barrett, and Dave Meyer, all of which graduated. This group includes the entire 200 and 400-yard freestyle relay teams that finished ninth and 10th, respectively, at state last season.

But a strong junior class and gobs of depth and experience, should make McGuire's first year at the helm an easy one. State qualifiers returning include juniors Dan Barron (butterfly) and Chris Wendt (backstroke).

Along with fellow senior Will Schulenberg, versatile swimmer Andrew McKernin also returns this season for the Friars. McGuire foresees McKernin competing in nearly every event over the course of the season.

"Andrew is an excellent swimmer," said McGuire. "He swims backstroke and butterfly real well, but I also see him excelling in freestyle. So we'll have to wait and see."

Others expected to make a significant impact this season include Matt Napleton, Brian Barron, Ryan Bartecki, Craig Borkovec, Will Rigali, and diver Leo Galvez-Roldan, who finished 27th in the prelims at state last season.

McGuire will look to newcomers Ryan Greenway, Garrison Johnson, Eric Bell, and Connor Brown to bolster Fenwick's depth. The freshmen, according to McGuire, have all participated in club swimming during the off-season, "so they're in really good shape to start the season, and that's good to have in the younger guys."

The Friars are likely to again battle Marmion for the top spot in the Metro Catholic Athletic Conference. The defending conference champs, who edged Fenwick for the conference title by a few points last season, return four state qualifiers.

"It's going to come down to depth and that's what happens in swimming all the time," said McGuire. "The more swimmers you have the more versatility you have. We should be very competitive this season."

The Friars travel to Evanston on Friday and will compete in the Stevenson Relays on Saturday. They'll host Sandburg on Dec. 7 (5:30 p.m.).

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