‘Cats holding nothing back at state swim meet

Set aside the stopwatch, the training plans and results of meets past.

For one final afternoon, the Marshalltown boys swim team will take to the pool to see how far they’ve come after countless hours in the water and the weight room.

After his squad earned six event entries, Bobcats coach Mike Loupee would like nothing more than for his swimmers to get out, let loose and hold nothing back Saturday in the Iowa High School Boys State Swimming Championships inside the Linda Bloom Natatorium at the Marshalltown Community Y.

Coming off a strong outing at districts last Saturday, the Marshalltown coaching staff believes more time can be dropped and with some great performances, points can be scored.

Though with an atmosphere unlike any other and an unmatched array of talent in the pool improved times and places can become by-products of competing against the best.

“It’s all about seeding, about what heat you’re in and who you’re next to,” Loupee said.”The state meet is an electric environment and not all kids respond the same way. Our guys look good. They’re loose and they’re relaxed so we have some definite possibilities.”

Senior Sam Carter and junior Blair Van Staalduine represent the Bobcats’ best chances to tally points as each makes his third appearance on the big stage with four events apiece.

Carter will cap his Bobcat swimming career individually in the 200-yard freestyle and 100 butterfly, while Van Staalduine will swim the 50 and 100 freestyle.

Both will join sophomores Jack Greene and Daniel Lothe in the 200 freestyle relay, before Carter, Van Staalduine and Lothe team with senior Hunter Barnard in the 400 freestyle relay.

Carter had a breakout performance at the district meet in Johnston and earned the eighth seed – the final spot in the fast heat – in the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 1 minute, 47.03 seconds. Besides racing against the very best, lane 8 could prove to be an advantageous position for Carter.

“Nobody pays attention to outside lanes so that can be a very positive place for Sam,” Loupee said. “His goal is just to try and get ahead of the guys that are right next to him on those inside lanes.”

Carter also clocked 54.48 seconds in the 100 butterfly to grab the 17th seed.

Van Staalduine is seeded 18th and 22nd respectively in the 50 and 100 freestyle with times of 22.22 and 49.50.

Van Staalduine finished 11th in the 50 at state last year improving nine spots from his seed and Loupee sees the same opportunity available Saturday.

“There’s four-tenths of a second separating 16 swimmers so it’s whoever has a good day and whoever nails their start and turn,” Loupee said. “There’s always a lot of rearrangement there.”

The same stands for Van Staalduine in the 100 freestyle and Carter in the 100 butterfly where 11 swimmers are in the 54-second range.

The senior said he feels very little pressure for his final go-round after punching his ticket in Johnston and is especially eager for the 200-freestyle where he’ll race against the cream of the crop.

“The state meet is always a lot more pressure-free than the district meet because you’re not worried about qualifying,” Carter said. “The (200 freestyle) is a really good opportunity. Racing with the best guys in the state is all you can ask for.”

The Bobcats sit 18th in the 200 free relay (1:31.48) though some more aggressive exchanges and a little luck could open the door for MHS to climb up the standings.

“With the sprint relay it’s not uncommon to see a couple relays get disqualified as teams stretch those exchanges,” Loupee said. “We had extremely safe exchanges at the district meet. We have a lot of time to squeeze off just in getting our timing down and our exchanges a little bit better. We’re not in a position to score so there’s no reason for us to hold back and not try to shave our exchanges down as close as we can.”

Marshalltown has the 20th-best time in the 400 freestyle relay (1:31.48) and has some added motivation in that race lining up against familiar foes in Fort Dodge and Mason City.

“Both of those teams beat us in our duals and we always compete well with Fort Dodge and Mason City,” Loupee said.

“They’re kind of our fun, good rivals – that’s what high school swimming is supposed to be about. If we can get both of them then we kind of have final bragging rights for the season.”

Along with cutting time and getting the last say against a few rivals, Marshalltown will look to improve upon last year’s 25th-place performance where they scored two points.

Though in the end, what the clock reads or the final standings display will only tell so much of the story. Loupee’s main wish is for his guys to hold nothing back and be satisfied with what comes of those efforts.

“It’s been a good season and whatever happens at the state meet is always kind of icing on the cake,” Loupee said.

“I always tell the guys that the only thing that chews you up in your life is regrets – so make sure you swim well, you swim hard, you leave it in the pool and you don’t look back 10 years from now and regret that there’s something else you could have done.”

Notebook

Saturday’s meet begins at 12:30 p.m. Doors open at 11 a.m. for those with advance tickets, while ticket sales open at 11:30 a.m. Loupee views Iowa City West, fifth a year ago, as the team to beat. Dowling Catholic has 17 entries and will also be in the mix after a third-place outing in 2013. The meet will be streamed on the IHSAA and Marshalltown YMCA-YWCA website.