Swim Team Breaks Records at State Tournament, Remembering Ryan


Bison swimmers cheer on their teammates at the CVC championship meet on Jan. 21. Photo by Gabriela Colovan Costa

Back in December, Bison swimming head coach Brad Burget told The Beachcomber that he had high expectations for this year’s team.

“I expect the boys to repeat going to states,” Burget said.

He hoped the team would move up in the state rankings and break a lot of team records.

Burget’s expectations were not far off.

He took seven boys to the state tournament on Feb. 23 in Canton, one more than last year.

The boys moved up in the state rankings from 21st last year to 18th this year.

They broke six team records. Just as many as last year.

Five girls and seven boys advanced to the postseason, which was also a team record for the number of swimmers advancing.

The intensity of the post-season capped off a season full of emotional highs and lows.

During an intensely competitive season, the team came together in victory but also in grief, as they lost a team member, junior Ryan Warner, who died of Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome on Jan. 12.

Following the death of their teammate, the swim team spent a lot of time together outside of the pool and supported one another emotionally.

“We all had to get closer to one another to get through it,” junior Darien Hersh said. “We had group homework sessions and dinners and a bunch of things to help each other out.”

Following the death of their teammate, the swim team spent a lot of time together outside of the pool and supported one another emotionally.”

Swimmers wore Bison tattoos with Warner’s initials to remember him throughout the postseason.

In order to push the team forward, Burget increased the rigor this season, moving to two mandatory early morning practices per week.

“I think they understand the commitment they need,” he told The Beachcomber in December.

Burget described his approach to training.

“We do a lot of high quality sets, a lot of recovery, emphasize weight lifting, dryland work and yoga,” he said.

“We were more focused as a team,” senior Sanford Hong said. “We had our goals in mind and took resting very seriously.”

There was also a greater emphasis on diet.

“We ate clean,” Hong said. “Lots of carbs and protein.

The rigorous training clearly paid off.

Beachwood swimmers achieved one of the strongest overall scores at the CVC Conference meet, which was held at home on Jan. 21.

The girls ended in 5th place, boys finished in 3rd place and sophomore Spencer Bystrom won first place in 100 backstroke, surpassing his own record with a time of 56.28 seconds.

The team worked hard to build on this achievement as they advanced to Sectionals on Feb. 11. The girls finished 6th place in the 400 relay and 9th place overall, and five girls qualified to advance to compete in six District events: sophomore  Macie Berkley and freshmen Alex Oleson, Mei Hashimoto, Yingying Gao and Abby Adams.

“I was really excited because we broke the [team] record at Sectionals, and I was excited to go with my teammates and do the best we could,” Hashimoto said.

Boys also had a good result at Sectionals, qualifying 7 to compete in 8 District events.

At District competition held at CSU on Feb. 17, Gao, Berkley, Hashimoto and Olesen broke another team record with the 200 medley relay, finishing in 12th place.

The boys also brought home an impressive finish, qualifying 7 to states.

Sophomore Spencer Bystrom broke a school record in 100 backstroke dating back to 1989. Bystrom also qualified 2nd place in the District diving competition.

As they advanced to states, this year’s boys team had high expectations to live up to, as last year’s team included six boys advancing to the state meet, where they finished 21st, scoring in every event.

“On a stage like the state championships it’s difficult to not be nervous, even if you’ve been there before,” junior Caleb Gecovich said.

In three different relays, the boys rose to the occasion.

On a stage like the state championships it’s difficult to not be nervous, even if you’ve been there before.”

— Junior Caleb Gecovich

Bystrom, Gecovich, Colmenares and Hersh competed in the 200 freestyle relay, placing 9th and breaking the school record.

Bystrom, Colmenares and Gecovich swam with Hong in the 200 medley relay, placing 18th.

In the 400 freestyle relay, Colmenares and Gecovich swam with freshman Gabe Colmenares and freshman Matt Keyerleber, placing 23rd.

Bystrom also placed 15th in the 100 backstroke and 5th in diving.

Overall, the team moved up the State rankings to 18th this year.

“Everyone did really well. We were especially happy about the 200 free relay,” Hersh said.

“We were a little disappointed that we didn’t make the A final, but after winning the B final and breaking the school record, we were pretty happy,” he added.

Burget’s goal is for the Beachwood Bison swim team to become one of the top five teams in the state. This is his seventh year coaching the Beachwood swimming program.

“It takes about a decade to make a really good program, so I think we’re on track,” Burget said.