Nathan Dreyer doesn’t do much offseason training for swimming.
His summer is usually filled with soccer, but after making it to the final day of the state swim meet last spring, he was in the water a little more last summer, bolstered by the confidence and knowledge that the state experience can bring for his senior season.
“It showed me that hard work during the season pays off in the long run,” said Dreyer, who placed 16th in the 100-yard breaststroke at the state meet. “I was very surprised to make it (last year), with the way my season was ending. But the taper worked really well, and I dropped a lot of time.”
Mankato East/Loyola’s boys swimming season began Saturday at the Hutchinson Invitational, where coach Tim Johnson, who is retiring after this season, said he was pleasantly surprised by nearly all of his young team’s results.
“We have a lot of inexperienced swimmers, and we’re asking some young kids to step up,” Johnson said. “When you’re swimming on B squad, it can be easy, but when you go up to varsity, it’s a little different competition.”
At Hutchinson, Dreyer finished fifth in the 100-breaststroke in 1:09.65, about six seconds slower that his state time but faster than his time in the same meet last season. He also swam the medley relay with freshmen Jacob Long and Josh Hamond and senior Mitch Miller, placing 10th in 1:52.81.
“I’m starting at a little better place,” Dreyer said. “Hopefully, the hard work keeps paying off.”
Dreyer’s goal is to challenge the school record of 1:01.57, which is more than a second faster than his career-best.
“Without swimming in the summer, for him to make it to the state meet is quite an accomplishment,” Johnson said. “It’s going to take him a while to get into shape, but he wants it in the worst way.
“One day, I sent him home because he was sick, but he wanted to stay and practice. Grudgingly, he finally went home.”
Dreyer is one of five seniors on the team, with Tyler Willert (diving), Miller (sprints), Ryan Kotthoff (middle distance) and Tristan Schmidt (distance). The juniors are Isaiah Warning (diving), Micah Warning (breaststroke), Jack Lin (sprints) and Sam Nelson (diving).
The sophomore class is headed by Andrew Schulze (individual medley, distance) and Luke Bauer (distance), while freshmen Long (breaststroke) and Hamond (butterfly) also will contribute. There are only 30 swimmers on the team, the lowest number in Johnson’s 40 years as the coach.