While the Oak Park and River Forest High School boys basketball team has been grabbing headlines this winter, there’s another undefeated team on the OPRF campus. The boys swimming team is off to a terrific start, highlighted by a 112.5-72.5 win over crosstown rival Fenwick.

“It’s always notable when OPRF squares off against Fenwick,” OPRF coach Clyde Lundgren said. “We managed to beat them this year, which makes it that much sweeter. It’s always a fun meet.”

OPRF continued its impressive work by winning the 10-team field at the Downers Grove South Invite over the weekend. The Huskies scored 449 points, followed by Stagg (417), Riverside-Brookfield (299), Glenbard North/East Co-op (210) and Lake Park (199)

The Huskies’ auspicious start is not surprising to people who follow the team. Swimming under the radar is no longer an option.

“We should compete with Hinsdale Central for the West Suburban Silver title,” said Lyons Township coach Scott Walker, who has guided the Lions to two straight state championships. “A team to look out for is Oak Park. I really like the development of their swimmers. If they work hard and come together as a team, they have some very talented young kids. Their potential is very high.”

While LTHS and Hinsdale Central are the prohibitive favorites to duke it out for the conference championship, the Huskies are a formidable third squad with considerable upside.

“The West Suburban Conference will continue to be a hotbed for high quality swimming and diving,” Lundgren said. “Lyons Township and Hinsdale Central are favored to compete for the state title. With those teams in our league, winning conference is a tall order.”

OPRF offered hints of its potential with a strong performance at the Fenwick Sectional last season. The Huskies qualified the 200- and 400-yard freestyle relays and seven spots in the individual events for the IHSA State Meet.

Sure, they lost state qualifiers J.P. Ungaretti and Thomas Wolfe to graduation but that’s the norm for any program. Those losses are recouped with a very good group of returners, including junior J.P. Rotatori, sophomore Will Raidt and junior Alex Pedraza,

Rotatori qualified for state by placing first in the 100-yard freestyle (47.62 seconds) and fourth in the 200-yard freestyle (1 minute, 43.31 seconds) at the Fenwick Sectional last year. Raidt also qualified for state at Fenwick with a winning time of 51.98 in the 100-yard backstroke and a runner-up finish in the 200-yard freestyle, 1:41.67.

“All three boys work very hard. They are versatile swimmers who bring a tremendous amount of competitiveness and firepower to our team,” Lundgren said. “We are young this year and have several key freshmen who will make significant contributions as well.”

There are six freshmen and 11 underclassmen overall on the varsity roster. Lundgren cited freshmen Ben Guerrero, Frank Tirone and Diego Pareja as swimmers to watch.

Evan Burnham, Braydon Graves, Matthew Louis, Finn McMullen, Owen Osga, Max Razzino, Robert Schweig, Connor Sorg and William Vejcik round out the team.

“Overall, our team is young and versatile,” he said. “The youth is an opportunity to establish strong team norms and add to a positive team culture. We have been fortunate to have quality people come out for the team. More often than not, good people make good swimmers.”

Along with plenty of talent, there is a comfort level among the swimmers that has expedited team chemistry and success.

“Several of the boys swim club together and really get along well with each other,” Lundgren said. “Their light-hearted but hard-working approach to training makes for a positive environment for all the other boys. All the boys seem to be enjoying themselves.”

With four dual meets and two invitationals already in the books, the Huskies are on an extended break. OPRF resumes action in January with conference meets at home against Glenbard West (Jan. 8) and Hinsdale Central (Jan. 12). Both start at 5 p.m.

In terms of objectives, Lundgren simply wants each swimmer to reach the best of his ability in and out of the pool.

“The goal is always to provide people with an opportunity to grow as a person and athlete,” he said. “Beyond that, we want to get as many athletes to achieve personal bests. If that’s good enough to win sectionals and get some boys to score individually or on a relay at the state meet, well then, the season has been a success.”

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Marty Farmer

The Illinois Press Association recently honored Marty with the 1st & 2nd Place Awards for Best Sports Feature for his article He's in an Oak Park state of mind: Former OPRF star Iman Shumpert returns...

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