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Badger swimming foursome solid at Madison


200 freestyle relay has best finish, shaves significant time off sectional mark



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February 24, 2011 | 05:12 PM
Madison — Coach Glenn Biller gave the Badger boys swim team a 10-day rest before sectionals so they could post their best times and make it to state.

It paid off when seniors Franek Kulik, Max Sim and Ryan Cook, along with junior Joe Shane, all advanced to state.

Saturday at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Natatorium was simply icing on the cake for the foursome.

At state, the 200 freestyle relay squad of Kulik, Sim, Cook and Shane had Badger's best showing, taking 15th place in a time of 1.31.51. The mark broke the team's sectional time by 0.3 seconds.

The same squad took 20th in the 200 yard medley relay with a time of 1:42.98. Biller was pleased with his team.

"It's pretty tough to drop more time at state," Biller said. "But we swam really well Saturday. The guys were really excited to be there, and it was a great experience. The guys mostly maintained their times from sectionals and really gave it their all."

Individually, Sim took 19th in both of his events, the 200 individual medley (2:03.41) and 100 breaststroke (1:02.12). Also, Kulik grabbed 19th in the 50 freestyle with a time of 22.67. Biller said the experience was special for his guys,

"For the seniors, it was a great way to finish out their careers," he said. "None are swimming in college. They finished their careers with their heads held high. Also, it was a great experience for Shane. Joe saw what it took to get to state."

Quite the experience

Sim spent the last three years on Burlington's swim squad, and he advanced to state in the 100 breaststroke as a sophomore. But he truly enjoyed his first state experience with Badger.

"It was a lot better state meet than I've ever had," Sim said. "My first time at state was kind of a bad experience. But this year I had an actual team to go with."

Sim said everyone had amazing splits in the 200 freestyle relay. He said chemistry has been the biggest factor in the success of the relay squad.

"These guys (Kulik, Cook and Shane) care about the sport as much as I do," Sim said. "If you are slacking, there is no laughing. Guys are like, 'What are you doing?'"

Sim will attend the University of Iowa next year. While he won't be swimming, he hopes to join the water polo team. However, he will never forget his trip to state.

"It's the best feeling when you called up onto the stand and you hear everyone cheering," he said. "No matter who you are, people will cheer because they know how hard you worked to get there."

It was Cook's second appearance at state. He was proud of his team's resiliency.

"The 200 medley didn't go as good as we thought," Cook said. "But we brought it back for the 200 freestyle. We all had our best times and dropped time from sectionals. I wanted to give it my all and not leave anything behind. You want to do good so your teammates will be proud of you."

Cook said the guys are friends inside and outside of the pool.

"We talk in practice," he said. "Outside of swimming, we are always hanging out with weekend pasta parties and stuff like that. We have good chemistry."

Next year, Cook is off to medical school at UW-Madison, where he wants to become an orthopedic surgeon. Like Sim, he wants to play water polo. He will always remember swimming as a Badger.

"I will always remember the adrenaline rush of competing," he said. "You get so pumped up and you're so nervous, you can't even breathe."

For Kulik, Saturday was nothing new. It was the senior's third trip to state, but it never gets old for him.

"I really liked the atmosphere," he said. "The crowd gets so loud. Just watching some events is really cool."

Kulik will attend the U.S. Naval Academy next year, where he hopes to try out for the triathlon team. He will never forget his days at Badger High School, and he has some advice for anyone interested in swimming.

"My freshman year, I remember watching Wes Lagerhausen swimming in the last leg of the 400 freestyle relay at state," he said. "It was a ridiculous comeback. He made up half a pool length at least. In swimming, if you have the heart and the will to win, it's a good sport for you."

On Saturday, everything was new for Shane. In only his first year of high school swimming, he advanced to state. He had swam in state previously for a Kenosha city team, but he hadn't experienced anything like Saturday.

"I had a personal best time in the 200 freestyle relay," he said. "I was a little familiar with the state experience, but Saturday just felt bigger. You could die of altitude sickness at the very top of the stands. I really enjoyed walking into the pool area and seeing all the people. It was like, "Whoa!'"

For the season, Shane said he met some new people and made some new friends while improving his swimming a bit. But next year, as a senior, Shane hopes to head back to state.

"I'm hoping to explode next year," he said. "I want multiple events next year at state. I hope to be a swimmer to watch, and I hope we have another good relay team."

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