You may not think of North Royalton as being a hot bed of swimming. But it is.
For a fifth consecutive season, the Bears were represented at the OHSAA State meet held at the C.T. Branin Natatorium in Canton in February.
The four members of the Boys’ team that qualified were: Senior Bobby Bottomley, Junior Luca Aldewereld, Sophomore Aidan Florio and Junior Yaro Hapyuk. The quartet qualified in the 200-yard freestyle relay and the 200-yard medley relay. Luca Aldewereld qualified in an individual race, the 50-yard freestyle. While the teams and Luca did not participate in the finals, just getting to the state meet is an achievement. The four had to get through the swimming sectional and district rounds in order to get to Canton.
North Royalton Head Swimming Coach Mike Milliken said one of the team goals before the season started was to get the relays to the State Meet. “At the start of the season, we were far off of having the type of speed needed to get to the state meet”. But over the swimming season, that changed.
Senior Bobby Bottomley qualified for his fourth State Swim meet in a row. You can’t get much better than that! “Each time I’ve been there, it’s exciting. I’m glad I get to go with a group of guys that have been working hard all year. We really had to work hard to get our relays to state. I’m really proud of what these guys have accomplished.”
In order to qualify with the Medley Relay, Bobby had to swim the backstroke. Let’s just say the backstroke is not Bobby’s best swimming discipline. “These guys fit the other strokes really well. We just thought that my working on backstroke would be our best chance to get to the state.”
Junior Luca Alderwereld said getting to swim in two races at the state was a product of his and the team’s hard work. “I get to go the state meet with a relay that I have made s special bond with. It’s exciting.”
Sophomore Aidan Florio made the state swim meet for the first time in his Bears’ career. ‘I’m really excited. It’s a great experience being there with my friends. I was sick before the districts and I thought it would be a challenge to get back at where I was. But I was able to pull it off.”
Junior Yaro Hapyuk was not surprised that the relay teams got to Canton. ‘I’m swimming with a great group of guys. I’m very happy that I was able to help out and contribute to the relays. My teammates are really good at swimming. It’s great to be going as a team because you build a bond with them through all the practices and meets.”
While the four swimmers, Bobby, Luca, Aidan and Yaro have the talent to get to a state meet, it takes a coach to develop the talent. That’s where Coach Milliken comes in.
“Honestly, I think it’s the coaching that helps us get to states. (Coach Milliken) knows how to get us going and how to motivate us. It’s the hard work and coaching we receive throughout the year gives us a really good shot to make the state meet,” said Bottomley.
Hats off to Coach Milliken and to Bobby, Luca, Aidan and Yaro. Job Well Done!
By Joe Jastrzemski
Contributing Writer for the Royalton Recorder
Posted March 11th, 2020