Head Coach Mike Cutler and his assistant coaches headed into the championship meets with enthusiasm and optimism for some fast swims and personal bests from his kids. The Rockford Riptide team responded with just that, and turned out one of the best seasons the club has ever seen.
The first stop for Coach Cutler and his team was East Lansing for the Junior Olympic meet. This meet is the last opportunity to qualify for the state meet. Every swimmer dropped time in at least one event or more. Rachel Gamm placed first in the 100 IM and Alyssa Kinstle took second in the 100 breaststroke, both adding state-qualifying times.
For the 12 & Under, Hunter Ignasiak took first in the 100 IM, adding more state times under her belt, as did Christina Hansen (100 backstroke) and Chloe Nelson (50 fly and 50 back).
In the 13 & Over group, Ethan Babcock took third place in both the 200 IM and 100 fly, sending him to the state meet for those events. Erin Hudson aged up in between Junior Olympic and state, but still earned qualifying times for the 15 & Over group in the 100 back and 100 free. Delayni Kornak-Kotarba took seventh place in the 100 fly. Morgan Lipe finished fourth in the 200 breast, and Dakota Noble swam the longest distance, the mile, with a time of 19:17.48, earning her a spot in that event at state. Hannah Raymond took sixth in two events, the 200 free and 100 free, also heading to state with those times.
Also representing Riptide were Yousef Bennet, Josh Corder, Alec Cutler, Olivia Foster, Marissa Marion, Leslie Schuchardt, Lilly Setterington, Cory Stage, and Kara Vandawater.
In the state meets, 29 kids represented Riptide. Lake Orion, Mich. hosted the 12 & Under group and Zeeland the 13 & Over kids. This is one of the largest groups ever to go and represent the club.
Riptide’s youngest swimmers, Masy Folcik and Kinstle, both placed in the top 16 in one event or more, which is impressive since they are only nine years old. Gamm, also nine, took sixth place in the 500 free and eighth in the 200 free. Foster led off the medley relay with improvement in her time for the 50 back.
Sydney McDowell started things off for the 12 & Under group with an incredible second-place finish in the 200 breast, and fourth place in the 50 and 100 breast. Meegan Snyman and Sara Fredricks followed suit with second- and fourth-place finishes respectively in the 50 free. Snyman also took sixth in the 100 breast and seventh in the 50 breast. Fredricks took second in the 100 free, seventh in the 50 fly and fifth in the 500 free. Hansen, Peyton Rayburn, Nelson, Andrew Haid, Jacob Newberger and Julian Kipke represented the team by taking off time and placing in the top 16 for some of their events as well.
Kennzie Hartmann placed in the top six or higher for all six of her events, including an impressive second-place finish in the 400 IM. She earned a fifth-place high point award for the overall meet and beat her own club records.
The 200 freestyle relay team consisting of Snyman, Fredricks, Hartmann and Ignasiak as anchor took first place and are now ranked 14th in the nation for that relay. The 200 free medley was no less exciting, turning out another first place in the state with Hartmann, McDowell, Fredricks and Snyman doing back, breast, fly and free respectively.
Fredricks celebrated her birthday with a state championship title in the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:59.66 (also a new club record).
“Our kids had a lot of highs and lows as is expected during these types of meets. I could not be happier with their performances and the way they represented the team. They really are a great group of athletes and the showed the entire state that every time they raced,” said Assistant Coach David Carson.
The 13 & Over group turned out some fast swims as well. Kennedy Cutler took top eight finishes in all her events but one. Jacob Fase took seventh in the 100 free, eighth in the 500 free and fifth in the mile. Daniel Haid took off time to finish sixth in the 100 back. Sarah Smith placed sixth and Vandawater took seventh in the 400 IM. Smith also took third in the 200 fly. Marion had to do a swim-off after tying for her ninth-place spot in the 100 free, and achieved a sectional cut in the process.
Also representing Riptide at this meet with personal best times were Babcock, Fredricks, Timmer Hoffmeister, Noble, Raymond, Rachel Romain, Hudson, Kornak-Kotarba, Lipe and McDowell.
“Overall we had some outstanding swims,” said Assistant Coach Erin Tramper. “It was exciting to see that we had several of our Riptide swimmers place in the top 16 in their events. Every year the top 16 gets faster and faster and our swimmers showed up to tackle those times.”
Head Coach Mike Cutler commented about the USA Sectional meet—the last stop for winter season—saying, “Great meet at Holland; several swimmers transitioned well to Long Course Pool with lifetime best swims, one week after state championships. Some new experiences for our up-and-coming swimmers who made it to this level meet. As they develop even further, they will be able to swim with great confidence, knowing that they have performed well there already.”
Several swimmers had standout performances at the USA Sectional, including Eric Chisholm in his first-ever Long Course meet, qualifying for Junior Nationals. Cutler placed top eight in three events and top 16 in two others, setting four club records in the process. Several others turned in top 24 performances and were able to swim in finals over the weekend.
Overall there seemed to be many repeating themes to this year’s turnout: club records, top 16, personal bests, fast swims, and state champions, to name a few. Riptide represented every age group from age 9 to 18. All in all, it is one of the best seasons that Coach Cutler’s team has ever produced, and they should all be proud of this and what is to come next season.
Riptide is now registering swimmers for the upcoming summer sessions and offers the following: USA Swim Team, Age Group Swim Team, High School Conditioning, and Adaptive Swim Team.
Riptide is a USA Swimming sanctioned competitive swim club based in Rockford, and is open to all communities. It also provides a pre-competitive group (Junior Riptide) for swimmers interested in exploring competitive swimming for the first time. More information is available at www.riptide.org.