During the process of building the Evangelical Christian swim program over the last decade, coach Ehrin Epps never really kept track of regular season records.
He is used to the Sentinels taking their beatings against larger squads, winning three or four meets a season while preparing for districts.
That as all changed this season as the ECS boys sport an undefeated 15-0 mark while the girls have 11 wins heading into Wednesday’s District A-9 meet at the Fort Myers Aquatic Center.
In the past, Epps remembers being unable to field relay teams because of low numbers. This season he has 13 boys filling all the slots.
“If I was missing one of them, it wouldn’t be the same,” Epps said.
The best example came in a one-point win over a much larger Riverdale team where sixth grader Ian Phipps accounted for two points to seal the upset.
“That win definitely boosted our confidence a lot. All of the guys swam their hardest and everyone participated,” said senior Wyatt Leonard, who competes in the 100 breastroke as well as on the 200 individual medley and 200 and 400 freestyle relay teams. “I’m proud to be on this swim team and be undefeated with all my guys,”
ECS has just three boys who swim year round. Epps places the newer swimmers in the shorter and freestyle events while counting on the veterans to compete in events outside their comfort zone.
For instance, Epps said Ben Henzel had a hard time during his first year on the team, but this season he’s being entered in the 100 butterfly at districts. Henzel has also swam the 200 and 500 free at a number of meets.
“A lot of these guys who swam last season who were new to it came back tougher and ready to do new things,” Epps said.
“We can’t afford to have people doing what they’re comfortable with because they’re always going to be doing the same two events. The team dynamic can’t work like that. You have to be ready for everything.”
The Sentinels hope to challenge Bishop Verot, Community School of Naples and Seacrest Country Day for supremacy in the district. They’ll need strong performances from sophomore Andrew Mills in the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke as well as junior Alex Moon in the 100 breastroke.
The goal is to qualify four or five individuals for regionals.
Meanwhile, senior Brandon Borkowski sees the 200 IM and 200 free relays making a run to regionals. The IM relay team has spent the season around the 1-minute, 43-second mark, but will need to drop a few seconds to be in contention Wednesday.
“This team is a lot different than last year,” Borkowski said. “We’ve really come together and bonded. We know what we’re capable of.”