Loyola senior Nathaniel Guenther is durable, tough and selfless, head coach Mike Hengelmann said.
That explains how he can swim the races he does during most meets.
On Saturday at Evanston’s invitational, Guenther competed in the first (200-yard medley relay) and third (200 IM) and 10th (100 breaststroke) and 11th (400 freestyle relay) swimming events. It’s a lineup that’s not for everybody, according to Hengelmann.
“It’s definitely a tough task,” he said. “He’s our glue and most versatile swimmer. We need him in those events, and he’s someone who can handle it.”
Guenther finished sixth in the breaststroke in 1 minute, 2.10 seconds and ninth in the IM (2:01.34). He helped the medley to ninth (1:43.76) and the 400 free to 11th (3:24.24).
“The schedule of events is hard,” he said. “I have to be focused, but I know what I have to do.”
The Ramblers finished eighth in the 18-team field with 131 points. New Trier won the event with 266.
One of four captains on the Ramblers — along with senior Chris Canning, senior Zach Holecek and senior Danny McGowan — Guenther said he’s excited about what the rest of the season holds for him.
“I’ve made some significant drops since last year,” he said. “It’s already my best year.”
As a junior, Guenther qualified for the state meet in the IM and on the medley and 400 free relays. He didn’t make the finals in any event. This season, Hengelmann said Guenther is capable of swimming on the second day of the state meet. The state standard for the IM is 2:01.34 and 1:00.0 for the breaststroke.
“The [qualifying] times are going to be fast, but he has the ability,” said Hengelmann, who doesn’t have any returning swimmers who scored points at last season’s state meet. “He’s been a quiet workhorse the last four years, and he’s the one who sets the tone in practice. He’s a model of consistency. He puts his head down and goes about his business.”
Guenther said his work ethic developed when he was younger and smaller than swimmers in his age group. He forced himself to outwork the others.
“I was about 10 years old, and everybody started growing and I stayed the same height,” he said. “I focused on my technique for the longest time. My growth spurt finally came along. That’s why I am really looking forward to the rest of this season.”
Loyola is at the Niles North Sectional on Feb. 18. The state meet is Feb. 24-25 at New Trier.