Life in the fast lane isn’t always easy.

Up against a field that included 5 of the top 10-ranked teams in the state of Illinois, Evanston’s swimmers couldn’t aim too high during Saturday’s 55th annual Evanston Invitational meet.

But the Wildkits still scored a satisfying 6th place team finish in the 18-team field, racking up 2,699 points under the NISCA (National Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association) established point table that rewards performances based on times, instead of places.

Glenbrook South, favored to win its first state title in another month or so, edged Loyola Academy by a margin of 3,106 to 3,047 for the team crown. New Trier (2,856), St. Charles North (2,807) and Neuqua Valley (2,713) rounded out the top five.

In the midst of a physically grueling training period — which also included a dual meet showdown with top-ranked GBS the previous night — the Wildkits competed well against the elite teams in the field, according to ETHS head coach Kevin Auger.

“We didn’t get beat by anyone today who isn’t really good, and we beat the No. 2 team in Wisconsin (Arrowhead, 8th with 2,647 points),” Auger pointed out. “We were 6th here last year, too, so this shows me we’re heading up. We may not be as good as the best teams, but we’re competitive with them.

“We’ve changed our training program a little this year with the change in the (school) calendar and we’ve pumped up the workload this week. We’ve really emphasized hard training over the holiday, and the nice thing is that we were able to hold our times for the second day in a row today. We really did well the second half of the meet, and that shows me the kids are in shape and really willing to work hard.”

Five different ETHS swimmers scored top 10 individual finishes, led by junior Charlie Duffy. Duffy placed 5th in the 50-yard freestyle in 22.26 seconds, then came back to earn 7th in the 100 breaststroke in a season best time of 1:02.18.

Charlie Herrick turned in a season best time of 55.67, good for 7th in the 100 backstroke, and Brendan Long added a 7th in the 500 freestyle in 4:53.14. Teammate John Martin contributed a 9th in the 500 freestyle, in 4:56.15, and Aaron Martin placed 10th in the 200 freestyle in 1:48.58.

Evanston’s best relay finish was a 7th in the 400 freestyle, where the unit of John Martin, Herrick, Long and Aaron Martin combined for a time of 3:19.63.

Dennis Mahoney is sports information director for Evanston Township High School.

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