SIOUX CITY | The Sioux City metro boys swim team had a strong showing at the state meet last year and with strong numbers and an experienced core it is expecting even better things this season.
The team finished 13th at state in 2016 but an impressive showing to begin this season has kept expectations and confidence high.
Sioux City’s success has been built around a core of swimmers in seniors Nate Gobell and Brenndan Gorski, junior Albert Pham and sophomores Cody Ott and William Rankin.
“Albert is swimming faster in the 100 breaststroke than he did at state so he is doing great there,” said Coach Eric Hoak, who noted that Pham is also swimming the individual medley, 100 freestyle and on relays for the team. “Brenndan is my freestyler and he is already swimming times faster than his best times last year. He went to state on some relays last year but we are hoping to make some individual events this year. Nate is one of the kids that has been to state the last three years and will make it again this year.”
The metro swim team may be based out of Sioux City but it is comprised of swimmers from across Siouxland as swimming programs have dwindled over the years.
The core group has Pham come from North, Gorski hails from East and Gobell attends Heelan. Ott travels from Le Mars to be part of the team while Rankin makes the trip from Hull.
“(Rankin) last year was the only freshman to qualify in the 100 freestyle for state,” Hoak said. “Obviously he is swimming great again this year, he is competitive and a hard worker. My surprise has really come from Cody Ott … he is swimming faster in the 50 freestyle than anyone on the team.”
The team’s relays have been the biggest strong point so far this season with both the 200 medley and 200 free relays sitting in the top 15 in the state.
Among the swimmers who will compete at Sioux City's district in Fort Dodge for the right to go to state, Pham has the top time in the 100 breaststroke (1:03.97) with the 200 medley relay also leading the way with a time of 1:44.47.
The team has won every meet so far this season with the exception of a runner-up finish at a competitive meet in Fort Dodge last week.
The team’s success has been built on hard work with two practices a day, one early in the morning attended by mostly local swimmers, and one after school.
“We do a lot of fast-paced sets and we do a lot of sets with very little rest in it,” Hoak said of his style. “For the two hours we are practicing they are working hard for an hour and a half after a warm up."
Hoak, who swam at North during his prep days and is in his fifth year leading the metro team, believes this team, which boasts 16 seniors out of its total of 29 swimmers, will have a strong state showing after the team tapers leading up to the postseason.
“I looked at the competition at our district this year and I am not aware of Sioux City every winning our district swim meet,” Hoak said. “I think we have as good a shot as anybody this year and that has been a goal of mine for the last five years. It is just a matter of trusting in the training we are doing.”
The team will swim its final home meet of the season Thursday night against Council Bluffs Abraham Lincoln and Council Bluffs Thomas Jefferson at the West High pool at 5 p.m.