Ben Munster is the new girls' swimming and diving head coach at Fenwick High School. He replaces Steve Thompson, who led the Friars the previous three seasons. | Provided

Fenwick High School’s girls swimming and diving team has a new leader this season as Ben Munster takes over the head coaching duties from Steve Thompson, who led the program the past three years.

“The facilities, environment, and athletes for a state-leading program exist here,” said Munster. “The transition has been great thus far, and the swimmers work hard every day to meet the high academic and athletic expectations.”

A former swimmer at Virginia Tech, Munster comes to Fenwick with eight years of coaching experience. He has worked at swim clubs in California, Colorado, and Georgia, and recently was an assistant coach locally with the Hinsdale Swim Club.

He joins a program that has 37 returning swimmers and divers for all levels. Notable returnees include sophomores Regan McDonald and Claire Wood; juniors Viktoria Castillo, Anna Doherty, Alexandra Lefko, and Evelyn Mulvihill; and senior Cailey Peele. All swam or dived at the IHSA Leyden Township sectional last year won by the Friars, who advanced all three relays along with seven individuals downstate.

Doherty qualified in the 200-yard individual medley and the 500-yard freestyle, winning the latter at Leyden. She was also part of Fenwick’s state-qualifying 200-yard medley (along with Mulvihill) and the 400-yard freestyle (along with Peele) relay teams. 

In addition, Peele took part in the Friars’ 200-yard freestyle state-qualifying relay, and Castillo was a state qualifier in diving.

Fenwick began the new season Aug. 26 with a 9th-place finish in the KP Invitational at Hinsdale Central. Mulvihill’s 2nd-place showing (time of 59.73 seconds) in the 100-yard backstroke along with Wood’s 9th-place effort (2:00.49) in the 200 freestyle were highlights.

The Friars also received contributions from a pair of freshmen. Joey Dumm placed third in the 500 freestyle with a time of 5:14.05, while Maggie Raniere took 15th in the 100 breaststroke (1:10.98).

“Leading the Fenwick program is a large responsibility,” Munster said. “I am thankful for the trust placed in me by the athletic department and parents of the athletes to lead the team. The swimmers and divers are working hard to achieve positive results in the championship phase of the season.”

Fenwick has a tradition of excellence in girls swimming and diving. The Friars are a perennial top team in the Metro Catholic Aquatic Conference and have won 22 of the last 23 IHSA sectionals. With several veterans from last season’s sectional champion on hand, Munster is confident he can maintain the program’s standards.

“I have been tasked by Scott Thies (Fenwick athletic director) to set high expectations and build strong relationships with the athletes,” he said. “These two items will guide the team toward building a positive training environment where swimmers and divers will compete to earn points at every competition.”

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