In some ways, this season's success of the Saint Ignatius swimming & diving program is best represented by Kartar Vig.
The sophomore's perseverance and hard work are indicative of the Wildcats' depth and devotion this season.
Vig took an indirect route to the Aqua Cats. Vig entered Saint Ignatius as a cross country runner, competing well during his freshman year. After the season, Vig wanted to try a winter sport to stay in shape.
Vig stumbled upon the Saint Ignatius swimming & diving program. Vig did not start as a wunderkind. Vig is a strong athlete, but swimming did not come naturally.
Starting from scratch, Vig initially experienced trouble getting up and down the pool. Just like many beginners, Vig found swimming to be a difficult sport.
Vig found his event in the 100 breaststroke. In the beginning, Vig clocked in at 1:25. As any swimming coach will tell you, that time is not great for the 100 breast. However, Vig did not give up.
During those long winter mornings and weekend meets, Vig developed a love swimming. After the season, Vig dedicated his spring and summer to improving his craft. Vig even decided to stop running and solely focus on swimming – he fell in love with the sport that much.
This season, Vig started shaving off time. His hard work began to pay dividends, as Vig gradually became faster. Under the direction of his coaches, Vig began to taper for the Sectional Meet. Based on his earlier times this season, Vig would need a good race to qualify for Districts.
Leading up to the Sectional Meet, his coaches encouraged him. Head Coach Mike Lehto and his assistant coaches – Jim Hlavaty '89, Kevin Carmichael, and Phil Symons – motivated the sophomore and assured Vig he could do it.
"I know he was feeling a lot of pressure coming into this meet thinking, 'Hey, I'm one of these guys and I might not be going.' It kind of worried him a little bit, but he performed," Lehto said.
On Saturday, Vig appeared confident before the late afternoon race. As he lept into the water, his teammates thundered encouragement. Vig ripped through the water and touched the wall at 1:07.73.
Vig's time did not place him at the top of the heat. Rather, Vig finished 15th and fourth amongst his fellow Wildcats. However, Vig's time assured him a spot at Districts among the team's other 17 swimmers and 2 divers.
"I'm really happy," Vig said after the race.
The sophomore couldn't say much more before his teammates swarmed him. Vig's swimming brothers hugged him, clapped him on the back, and expressed their pride in him.
All the while, Vig wore a big smile. When the interview resumed, Vig credited the long practices and work for his success.
"Just working hard in the season and giving it everything you got in practice," Vig said. "That's the key."
The lengthy practices and all of the hard work led to Vig's devotion for the sport.
"I just want to help my teammates and do the best I can for them," Vig said. "It's the camaraderie and the teamwork that brings us together. It's like one big family. It's what motivates me every day. During our season, I spend so much time with the guys. That brings us so close together. You feel that bond every day. It's so powerful."
His teammates and coaches could not be more proud of Vig.
Lehto is particularly pleased with Vig. Lehto has watched Vig pour countless hours into the sport with which the young man has fallen in love.
"He put his heart and soul into it. He gave up a sport in which he's an exceptional athlete," Lehto said. "He wanted to swim, he loved the sport. That just shows you the work ethic he has. Working every day, day in and day out, both on dry land and in the water, that's what pays off. It's a sport where the more work you put into it, the time will drop. You just feel good for a kid like that to get to the next level. Now that the pressure is off, he can go even faster next week."
The best part is that Vig isn't close to done.
"It's just the next step for me," Vig said. "I have two years left to go, and hopefully I can make it States by my senior year."