Bay Port swimmers continue FRCC dominance
By Rich Palzewic
SUAMICO – Over the past 17 years, many dominant teams have competed in the Fox River Classic Conference (FRCC).
But one stands above them all: the Bay Port boys’ swimming team.
The Pirates won their seventh consecutive FRCC title last weekend with a record-breaking performance at the Ashwaubenon Community Pool.
“I’d throw the Bay Port boys’ swimming team’s hat into the ring,” coach Jim Schilz said. “How can you argue with having won so many consecutive titles? I think that goes across all sports at any school.”
The Pirates won the meet by a conference-record 228 points.
Bay Port finished with 606 points — which tied for the most ever at conference – followed by Sheboygan North (378) and Green Bay United (311).
“We swam great,” Schilz said. “We had guys take seconds off their personal-best times. We also had guys jumping up into all-conference honorable mention positions — going from eighth to third place. Two of our B relay teams finished third.”
Dating back to 2007 when the FRCC was created, Bay Port has now won 12 of the 16 years the meet has been held.
In 2021, no FRCC title was awarded because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Pirates also won five consecutive conference titles from 2007-11 and then had a lull for four seasons before winning again to start the current streak — in 2016.
Additionally, the 2023 seniors never felt defeat in FRCC dual meets — their entire four-year careers.
“It probably goes even further back (as a team) — like three more seasons,” Schilz said.
With so much success, Schilz said it would be easy for his swimmers to get complacent.
“The kids work hard every day,” he said. “We also race each other — both at practice and meets. If our competition is down for one meet, I pit our fast guys against each other. There are also spots on the line. Other coaches are probably envious of what we have, but I’m trying to weed through to figure out who not to swim — it’s a good problem to have. I had to do it at conference, and I’ll have to do it again at sectionals (this weekend). We started the season with 27 swimmers, but now that’s dwindling.”
Schilz noted this is the deepest team he’s had — both in talent and depth.
“Last season, we had Ozan Kalafat — a great swimmer,” he said. “He was the state champ in the 200 and 500 freestyle and broke the state record in the 500. It’s hard to believe we are a deeper team this season without having the state champ on our team.”
Schilz thinks Bay Port’s dynasty will continue.
“Oh, yes,” he said. “We’re going to try. We’ll be losing six seniors after this season, but if I look at what we’ll have coming in and the underclassmen coming back, I expect us to be right back in the mix next year.”
The 2023 seniors are Aiden Beth, Caleb Laforbois, Turner Long, Lawson Meier, Will Nicol and Asa Sadowsky.
“Our success has much to do with our coaching and work ethic,” Meier said. “We’re here before school, after school and often lift during the day. There’s that line at the bottom of the pool we sometimes stare at for an hour straight and don’t talk. It takes a big toll on your mental state — it’s who can push themselves the hardest. Racing is 90% mental and 10% training.”
Nicol said staying focused takes a conscious effort.
“There are some days — especially during those early mornings — it would be easy to pack it in,” he laughed. “Coach reminds us of that. We’re all hungry, and we all like to win. It’s relatively easy getting to number one, but staying there is the hard part — everybody wants to win and be the best. Once you achieve that, it’s about maintaining that success. I think everyone on the team likes to operate on having that target on our back.”
Before Bay Port’s WIAA Division 1 sectional defeat at the hands of Neenah last season, the team had won five consecutive sectional titles.
“We scored the most ever points at sectionals last season, but Neenah edged us by seven or eight points,” Schilz said. “I’m not sure our mentality is to get Neenah back, but they did graduate a good portion of their team — and we’re still strong as ever. I’m expecting great things this Saturday.”
The respective winners in each event at sectionals automatically advance to the WIAA state meet on Feb. 17-18 at the Waukesha South High School Natatorium.
“I’m thinking we’ll have a couple of guys win their respective events,” Schilz said. “After that, it’s based on time. I’d like to get two relay teams in — whether that would be by winning the event (at sectionals) or getting in based on additional qualifiers.”
Schilz said team finishes at state are hard to predict. “It’s like track and field,” he said. “Some schools qualify 10 and some teams qualify two. I’d like to be in the top 10 as a team. We finished 11th last season.”