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Aqua Cats Look To Defend District Crown

By Joe Mertens '15, 12/03/21, 1:15PM EST


After winning back-to-back District Championships, the Wildcats are primed to build off their success' heading into a new season.

CLEVELAND, Oh - The Swimming and Diving Cats were coming off their second consecutive District Championship a season ago. Head Swimming and Diving Coach Eric Dennis is entering his second season with the program and looking to build off a successful first season with the Wildcats. The season will open on Saturday, December 4, to St. Charles for the Catholic Showdown.

For Saint Ignatius, most of the team swims year-round and are already in shape for the regular season. “A lot of our kids swim year-round, swimming for different teams,” explains Dennis. “They have done a great job all summer and they are prepared for this season. We’ve been working hard for a month and I’m excited to see what we can accomplish.”

Heading into a new season, the Swim Cats have strong senior leadership. The Wildcats are led by seven seniors, with the captains being Sam Hessler, Brendan Kiskorna and Micah Murtha. “The leadership on this team has always been awesome,” Dennis says. “Last year walking in my first year was difficult and the leadership we had there was phenomenal; we have seven seniors this season with a couple of record holders coming back, so the experience coming back is super helpful because outside of them, our team is young.”

“We have always had great leaders and older guys to look up to; as a younger guy, I didn’t have to do too much. We had great individual swimmers,” explains Murtha. “This year, it will take more than just individuals; we will need to be a team to be great.”

Murtha and Hessler were members of the 200-yard relay team last season that broke a program record with the quickest finish of that particular relay. 1:24.44 shattered the record and with the returning experience coming back from last season, the Aqua Cats aspire to compete for a State Championship.

“It’s a season like no other; working from freshman year to now a senior and leading this team is special,” explains Hessler. “Swimming is a harsh sport and it was a long ride to get here. Everyone put in a crazy amount of work and I’m super excited for this season.”

During the off-season, the Wildcats stayed in peak condition in the pool. Kiskorna comes into his senior season much stronger and has improved in the pool. “I was swimming five or six days a week with team Lake Shore in the summer,” says Kiskorna. “I also lifted three days a week, training with coach Rubino.”

Building strength was a significant focal point for Murtha heading into his senior season. “Getting stronger in general,” Murtha explains. “I spent a lot of time in the weight room and working on the little things to improve on for this season.”

Swimming and Diving Season Preview

The goals remain high for the Wildcats heading into a new season and coach Dennis is excited to see how his team builds throughout the season. “We’re looking to place in the top three again; we always have aspirations of a State Championship,” explains Dennis. “We don’t want to take a step back; we want to take a step forward and win Districts for the third season in a row. A personal goal of mine is that these men represent the Saint Ignatius Community that they are a part of.”

“We are defending District Champions. We have a name to defend,” Hessler says. “I am proud of all our guys coming into this season.”

The Cats will get their first taste of the season on Saturday and travel to St. Charles for the Catholic Showdown. Many of the state’s top teams will be competing this weekend and will be an excellent indicator of how the season will go for the Aqua Cats. “I am very excited; this will be the first time taking this team to the Catholic Showdown environment,” says Dennis. “This has great competition, with a bunch of top 10 teams in the state; this will be a preview of how the season will look for our first meet of the year.”

“I am pumped. It’s been a while since I have competed at a high school meet,” Murtha says. “We are a tight group, this is a great competition and I’m looking forward to competing with my brothers.”

The Cats have high confidence as they head into the season’s opening meet. “We’re expected to win this meet and I think we can win it,” says Kiskorna. “Season goals is another District Championship and going for our third straight.”

The Wildcats are hoping to continue to build the program up from the past two successful seasons winning a District title. With the season beginning this weekend, the excitement can be felt within the team as they are ready to compete for not only a District Championship but a State Championship.