Oak Park and River Forest High School sophomore swimmers Nikita Bondarenko, left, and Kyle Patnode pose for a photograph outside the school's currently closed for construction swimming pool, Wednesday, December 1, 2010.J. GEIL/Staff photographer

Peter Quinn has been coaching boys swimming at OPRF for 18 years and has never started the season without a home pool. Until now.

Quinn and the Huskies have been carted off to Leyden and Morton East high schools for tryouts and practices as OPRF’s main pool remains closed due to a contractor failing to get proper permits before doing work on the drainage system over the summer.

The OPRF girls swim team was forced to spend the entire fall season on the road.

“It’s not ideal, but it is what it is,” said Quinn. “We’re trying to make the best of the situation.”

Quinn added that he and his staff are already planning on being without a home pool for the entire season, although administrators haven’t said otherwise. “It’s just better to think of it that way. With that in the mindset I think everyone will be better prepared in the coming months.”

Only two home meets were originally on the schedule this season and one has already been switched to Proviso West. The meet scheduled for Jan. 28 against Downers Grove North remains a home contest for now. “That’s supposed to be Senior Night, so we’ll keep that as scheduled until we get closer to the date,” said Quinn.

Quinn has six seniors back from competing at sectionals and two speedy sophomores who made great strides as freshmen last year. David Anderson, Jonas White, Armando Lee, Colin Krueger, John Verticchio and Luke O’Connell, who swam at state last year in the 200-yard individual medley, all return as seniors for OPRF. Anderson, White and Lee are expected to share sprint freestyle duties, while Verticchio will likely swim butterfly and O’Connell will take on several roles due to his versatile skills. Anderson and Lee are coming off a state swim in the 200-yard freestyle relay in which the group finished in 1:28.65 for 23rd place.

Kyle Patnode and Nikita Bondarenko return after successful freshman debuts on varsity last season. Patnode was OPRF’s leadoff backstroker in the medley relay last year that qualified for state. Patnode, O’Connell and the now graduated Eric Hallman and Tommy Poulos swam to a time of 1:39.46 in the state prelims.

Along with Patnode, Bondarenko swam at the YMCA National Meet during the offseason. “Those two swimmers have made great improvements,” said Quinn of the speedy underclassmen. “It will be good to see what kind of impact they make.”

Quinn is also hoping diver Ben Lewis will compete in the state finals this season. The junior just missed qualifying for the finals last season by placing 15th with a score of 257.65. The Top 12 move on to the finals.

The Huskies, who will try to make headway in the West Suburban (Silver) Conference after finishing fourth last season, began the season at the Barrington Invitational on Saturday. The team finished fourth at the meet.

OPRF travels to Riverside-Brookfield on Friday (5 p.m.).

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Brad Spencer

Brad Spencer has been covering sports in and around Oak Park for more than a decade, which means the young athletes he once covered in high school are now out of college and at home living with their parents...