Swimmers thinking big — if they have a season

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MTT News's picture
By: 
Rob Reischel
Nick Chirafisi figures to be one of the top performers for Middleton’s boys swimming team — if the Cardinals have a season./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

Danny Lynam knows his team might be overlooked.

They might be disregarded, discounted, ignored.

And that’s just fine with Middleton’s boys swimming and diving coach.

The Cardinals graduated an enormous amount of talent from the group that won the WIAA Division 1 state title in February. And if Middleton eventually has a season, Lynam and the Cardinals have no problem being the hunter instead of the hunted.

“I think a lot of people would have counted us out. However, I think we could surprise a number of people with the success we would have,” Lynam said. “When you have a team as large and deep as ours you always have the next group of guys ready to go.

“We have a number of guys that get pushed down or overlooked, just because we have so much depth at the top end. In a normal year there are guys swimming JV that would normally be varsity on most other teams in our conference, and with so many spots to fill, this would be their year to shine.”

Of course, getting into the pool is another story altogether.

While teams across the state began practicing Nov. 23 and many had their first meets last week, things are on hold at MHS. Public Health Madison & Dane County issued Emergency Order #10 on Nov. 17, which prohibits indoor gatherings of any size.

While Lynam is cautiously optimistic his team will eventually have a season, the Cardinals are currently in a holding pattern.

If Middleton gets back into the pool and can eventually compete, Lynam will lean heavily on a group of key returnees.

Sophomore Nick Chirafisi was part of Middleton’s 400-yard freestyle relay team that finished second at state. Chirafisi was also fifth individually in the 500-yard freestyle and sixth in the 200-yard freestyle.

“After having a breakout season last year we look forward to Nick continuing to contribute in both the 200 and 500 free, as well as the relays,” Lynam said. “Nick put in a lot of hard work last year during the season and it paid off for him at state. I look forward to seeing his continued growth over the next three years.”

Sophomore Jack Madoch had a huge first year himself. Madoch was part of Middleton’s 400-yard freestyle relay team that was second at state. Madoch was also part of the Cardinals’ 200-yard freestyle relay team that finished third and was 13th in the 100-yard freestyle.

“Jack made some major contributions as a sprinter for our team and just barely missed qualifying his second event at state last year,” Lynam said. “I think he still has a lot of untapped talent we can get to.”

Senior Joe McNerney is a three-year standout who was 12th in the 200-yard freestyle last year.

“Joe has been a steadfast contributor throughout the past three years and has developed into a very strong leader on the team,” Lynam said. “His work ethic and dedication to his teammates have helped create the culture on the team that we are so proud of. With a large group of new swimmers starting this year, Joe will be instrumental in continuing to shape the future of the team.”

Senior captain Alex Starr will also have a key role as both a swimmer and a diver.

“Alex is the first guy I have coached that went four years as both a swimmer and a diver,” Lynam said. “He stretches himself the most of any other guy on the team.

“Balancing the demands of both swimming and diving is a near impossible feat that demands early mornings and late nights, and Alex looks to have made it through all four years doing both. As another key leader on our team, and our only senior diver, Alex will certainly leave his mark on our program as a role model.”

Lynam has already left his mark.

In addition to winning a state title last year, the Cardinals were also second in 2019 and 2018. Prior to that run, Middleton’s only top-two finish at state came in 2000, when it was second.

Now, if the Cardinals have a season, Lynam hopes to keep the good times rolling.

“Over the years we have worked hard to change the culture and mindset of the team,” he said. “The talent and hard work has always been there. We have just had to develop the belief that we could be as successful as any other program in the state. My hope is that whatever our season ends up looking like, that belief and mindset endures.”

 

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