By Adam Altobella
Splash! Brady Samuels, Delta’s anchor swimmer, catapults himself off of the block and breaks the surface of the water like a dolphin. With his raucous teammates behind him, he speeds through the water with ease. After swimming four 25-yard laps, the Eagle cruises into the wall ahead of any of the other swimmers. His passionate swim not only secured the team’s win in the 400-yard freestyle relay, but also the program’s sixth consecutive boys’ swimming sectional title.
“We don’t like to lose,” head coach Laura Seibold-Caudill said.
In fact, the boys’ and girls’ swimming programs don’t lose very frequently as a team, nor with their individual swimmers. Although the boys’ and girls’ swimming and diving teams have been some of the most successful programs in school history, last year’s success was almost unprecedented.
On the boys’ side, last season saw a sectional title, state qualifications in seven events, a state champion diver, and a state runner-up sprinter. On the girls’ side, last season did not end in a sectional title; however, St. Norbert College swimming commit Hayden Armstrong competed in her third consecutive IHSAA state meet.
Both programs have shifted their focus to the upcoming season.
Seibold-Caudill said her primary goal for the boys’ squad is to repeat as sectional champions, something that has been a common theme in the program’s recent history. However, she understands that the road to winning a sectional title will be more difficult this season, and that the squad’s depth will be its key to success.
“It’s going to be tougher this year,” Seibold-Caudill said. “We have the top guys, but it’s going to depend a lot on our inexperienced guys so that they can score in the consolation heats.”
With the understanding that this year’s team will have to find the decisive points from unexpected contributors, junior swimmer Eli Arnold believes that sophomore Brayden Bowman has the potential to surprise the local swimming world. Bowman had a strong freshman campaign, especially in the backstroke, but greater expectations will lie on him this season with the departure of Ryan Van Pelt.
Arnold said, “Brayden Bowman has been putting a lot of off-season work in, and hopefully he can step up.”
In addition to Seibold-Caudill’s collective expectations for the boys’ team, she has ambitious goals for the program’s star athletes: Brady Samuels and Sam Bennett.
Bennett and Samuels, two future Purdue Boilermakers, are certainly no strangers to the big stage. At last season’s IHSAA State Championship, Bennett placed first in the 1m diving, while Samuels claimed a second-place finish in the 100 freestyle and a sixth-place finish in the 50 freestyle.
“We would like to see him [Brady] win the thing, of course, and that’s always our goal,” Seibold-Caudill said. She added, “Last year Sam won the state championship, and we would like to see that repeat.”
On the girls’ side, the small team and loss of senior leaders from last season has led to uncertainty surrounding the upcoming season. Coach Seibold-Caudill believes that this season will likely be a rebuilding and developmental year as many of the athletes are inexperienced.
However, she believes that the future is promising for the program as there are many talented middle school swimmers whom she coaches through Cardinal Swim Club.
Despite the fact that the girls’ program is entering a rebuilding phase, senior Hayden Armstrong looks forward to continuing her success. Last season, Armstrong claimed the sectional crown in the 500 freestyle and competed in the state meet for the third consecutive season.
In addition to Armstrong’s accomplishments in the pool, Seibold-Caudill believes that her leadership skills outside of the pool will be a great asset to the program.
In fact, Seibold-Caudill is a firm believer in the importance of strong out-of-the-pool comradery as her first primary goal is to provide a good experience for every swimmer.
“Winning isn’t the only thing,” Seibold-Caudill said. “Let’s have fun. There’s so much more that you can get from being on a swim team. … If you don’t have fun in something, it’s hard to do it.”
By swimming faster than the competition, and sharing a few laughs along the way, the Delta boys’ and girls’ swimming teams look to further the program’s legacy of success.