Nick Zito prepares to compete in the Olympic swimming trials
Park Review Staff Reporter
Lombard resident Nick Zito
will swim at the upcoming U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Omaha, Nebraska. Zito,
21, earned berths to the trials earlier this year in two events—the 100- and
200-meter breaststroke. The trials, which take place June 26–July 3, will
determine the United States swimmers who will compete at the 2016 Olympics in
Brazil. The swimming competition at the Olympics will begin on Aug. 6.
Zito punched his ticket to
the USA Olympic Trials in Omaha when he swam under the qualifying times in both
breaststroke events at the Arena Pro Swim Series event held March 3-5 in
Orlando, Florida. He completed the 100-meter breaststroke final in a 13th-place
time of 1 minute, 3.28 seconds—meeting the USA Olympic Trials standard of
1:03.69. Zito finished the 200-meter breaststroke final in a 10th-place
time of 2:16.13, which met the qualifying standard time to reach the
The top two finishers in
each breaststroke event at the trials in Omaha will qualify for the U.S.
“I kind of knew that I could
go those times,” said Zito. “I’m very happy that I actually did them. I was
just really excited to be able to go that fast.”
Zito set personal-best times
in each of the breaststroke events at the competition in Orlando. He dropped
about 1.5 seconds off his best time in the 100-meter race and shaved a little
more than two seconds off his best time in the 200-meter contest.
Zito joined the Lombard
Waves park district swim team when he was 5 years old. He spent his final
season with the Waves in 2013, the same year he graduated from Willowbrook High
School. During his senior season as a member of the Addison Trail/Willowbrook
boys swimming team, Zito earned two top-five finishes at the 2013 IHSA state
meet. He placed second in the 200-yard individual medley and claimed a
fourth-place finish in the 100-yard breaststroke.
After graduating from
Willowbrook, Zito went to the University of Iowa, where he was a member of the
Hawkeyes’ men’s swimming team. The rigorous academic and athletic schedule took
a toll on Zito, who contracted mononucleosis during his freshman year and lost
a significant amount of weight from his already tall and lean frame. The
6-foot, 9-inch Zito did not compete in any swim meets during his sophomore
season. He returned home after his sophomore year at Iowa and
decided to take a break from school and swimming.
“I wanted to get away from
swimming for awhile,” said Zito, who began swimming in competitive club meets
when he was about 8 years old. “Most of my time for the past 12 years has been
going to swim and work out. There were probably only two weeks per year that I
wasn’t swimming. It’s been non-stop.”
Zito took a seven-month
break from swimming in 2015, staying out of the water from February to
September. Jeannine Zito said her son wasn’t sure if he wanted to swim anymore.
He eventually decided to return to swimming and began training with West Superior
Training, formerly known as Westmont Swim Club. He soon began a whirlwind
schedule of competing in Arena Pro Swim Series events around the
country—Minnesota in November, Texas in January and the Florida competition in
March, followed by events in Arizona in April, North Carolina in May and one in
Indiana earlier this month.
“The break helped a lot,”
said Zito. “It pretty much made me mentally and physically able to go back in
and work toward the trials.”
“Everybody’s afraid to take
time off,” said Jeannine Zito in referring to the grueling training schedules
of elite swimmers. “Kids think they can’t have success if they take some time
off. But Nick wasn’t training hard in 2015 until September. Sometimes the body
and mind need a break. It’s OK to take a break and reset your goals.”
Swimmers often “taper” for a
major event by easing up on their training schedules in the preceding days and
weeks to build up strength for an important race. Nick did not taper his races
“He had energy,” said
Jeannine, who added that her son also benefited from traveling to the meet with
Hinsdale Central student Franco Reyes, a friend and fellow elite swimmer. “That
was a distraction, which helps. When he’s relaxed, he swims faster.”
Reyes, who also swims for
West Swim Club, has represented Panama in international events. He may swim for
Panama at the Olympics in Brazil.
Zito’s chances of qualifying
for the Olympics may be slim, but he does have a chance, and unlikely stories
have played out before at the qualifying trials. There is an elite national
meet in Minnesota shortly after the trials. Zito may or may not attend that
“Sometimes you’ve got to
have your own downtime, and focus on something else,” Jeannine said.
Zito has fond memories of
his several seasons as a member of the Lombard Waves park district team.
“It was a whole different
experience from the club atmosphere,” he said of his summer seasons with the
Waves. “It was much more fun and relaxed. It wasn’t all business all the time.
You could go hang out with your friends and get away from all the competition.
I really enjoyed it.”
pick up win at Addison before losing to Itasca
The Lombard Waves swim team
earned its first win of the DuPage Swim and Dive Conference season when it
defeated the Addison Frogs 369-275 in a June 15 meet at Addison. The victory
evened Lombard’s record at 1-1. The Waves opened their season with a 319-316
loss at Carol Stream on June 11.
Lombard swimmers who
delivered multiple individual victories against Addison included a pair of
8-and-under swimmers. Zola Nowicki won three races (the 25-yard freestyle, the
50-yard freestyle and the 25-yard breaststroke) in the 8-and-under girls level.
Michael Hoffmann was a three-time winner in the 8-and-under boys division. He
claimed his victories in the 25-yard freestyle, the 25-yard backstroke and the
Libby Haxton provided the
Waves with three wins in the 11-12 girls level. She turned in first-place
finishes in the 50-yard freestyle, the 100-yard individual medley and the
50-yard butterfly. Grace Schwieters of the 13-14 girls division also swam to
three individual victories. She earned her wins in the 50-yard freestyle, the
50-yard backstroke and the 50-yard breaststroke.
individual champions in the meet at Addison included Katelyn Czarnowski
(50-yard freestyle and 100-yard individual medley) and Ann Marie Czerwinski
(100-yard freestyle and 50-yard butterfly) of the 9-10 girls division, as well
as Lance Mueller (50-yard freestyle and 100-yard freestyle) and Nick Maiers
(50-yard backstroke and 50-yard breaststroke) in the 9-10 boys level. Luke
Schwieters won the 50- and 100-yard freestyle races in the the 11-12 boys
division. Mairead VanSanten was a two-time champion in the 13-14 girls level,
claiming wins in the 100-yard individual medley and the 50-yard butterfly. Evan
Kale of the 13-14 boys division provided victories in the 50-yard freestyle and
the 50-yard butterfly. Daniel Bajda, another 13-14 boys swimmer, turned in
victories in the 50-yard backstroke and 50-yard breaststroke. Anna Christiansen
won a pair of races (the 100-yard freestyle and the 50-yard butterfly) in the
15-18 girls division.
The Waves and Addison each
won 10 relay events during the meet. Lombard earned two of its wins in the 9-10
girls level. Czarnowski, Czerwinski and Lillian Vish swam on both winning
teams. Madelyn Nowak joined them on the 200-yard medley relay team, while
Hannah Meyer teamed win them on the victorious 200-yard freestyle relay.
Lombard also won two relay
events in the 11-12 boys, 13-14 girls and 13-14 boys divisions. Luke Schwieters,
Steve Flanagan and Thomas Florey swam on both of the Waves’ winning 11-12 boys
teams. William Forsberg rounded out the winning 200-yard medley relay foursome,
while Christopher Bajda contributed to the first-place effort in the 200-yard
Grace Schwieters and
VanSanten swam on both of the winning relay teams in the 13-14 girls level.
Harrison Forsberg, Evan Kale and Matthew Bacon contributed to both relay victories
in the 13-14 boys division.
Lombard’s overall season
record fell to 1-2 after Saturday’s 380-273 loss to Itasca at Paradise Bay
Water Park. Lauren Manning of the 8-and-under girls level won three individual
races (the 25-yard freestyle, the 50-yard freestyle and the 50-yard backstroke)
for the Waves. Lombard’s Grace Dynako produced three individual championships
in the 13-14 girls division by winning the 100-yard individual medley, the
50-yard butterfly and the 50-yard backstroke.
Christopher Bajda swam to
two victories in the 11-12 boys division, winning the 50-yard freestyle and the
100-yard individual medley. Daniel Bajda won the same two events in the 13-14
boys level. Evan Kale also picked up two victories in the 13-14 boys division.
He earned his wins in the 50-yard butterfly and the 50-yard backstroke.
The Waves’ season continues
with this week’s meets against Roselle and Bloomingdale.
drop meets against Butterfield and Carol Stream
The Villa Park
Mariners faced the Butterfield Bullfrogs and the Carol Stream Dolphins in last
week’s DuPage Swim and Dive Conference meets. The Bullfrogs outscored the
Mariners 412-243 in a June 15 meet at the Butterfield Park District pool. Carol
Stream edged Villa Park 328-304 in Saturday’s meet at Jefferson Pool.
two-time individual champions in the meet against Carol Stream included Olivia Bernardi,
who won the 50-meter freestyle and 25-meter breaststroke races in the
8-and-under girls level. Jake Koterba earned a pair of victories in the 9-10
boys division by swimming to victories in the 50-meter freestyle and 50-meter
backstroke events. Tommy Nettleton captured two titles in the 11-12 boys level
with first-place efforts in the 100-meter individual medley and the 50-meter
butterfly. Melissa Johnston (50-meter freestyle and 50-meter butterfly) and Meghan
Koterba (100-meter individual medley and 100-meter freestyle) won two events
each in the 15-18 girls division. Ethan Wallace swam to two wins in the 15-18
boys level. He claimed his titles in the 50-meter freestyle and 50-meter
winning relay teams in Saturday’s meet included the 9-10 girls foursome of
Audrey Morgan, Annabelle Thompson, Hailey Raffen and Nora McCormack, which won
the 200-meter medley relay. McCormack, Raffen and Thompson teamed with Lily
Cammarata to win the 200-meter freestyle relay. The Mariners also won two relay
events in the 13-14 boys, 15-18 girls and 15-18 boys divisions. The quartet of Sean
Pienkos, Jack Nettleton, Thomas Holmes and Raymond Brisbois teamed to win the
200-meter medley relay and the 200-meter freestyle relay.
joined Meghan Koterba and Madeline Nettleton on both of the Mariners’ winning
relay teams in the 15-18 girls level. The three girls teamed with Anne
Jankowski to win the 200-meter medley relay. They joined Savannah Catalano
during a first-place performance in the 200-meter freestyle relay.
The 15-18 boys
foursome of Jack Wentworth, Jacob Roucka, Jack Burns and Wallace won the
200-meter medley relay early in the meet. The same foursome delivered a victory
in the meet’s final event—the 200-yard freestyle relay.
swimmers who won a pair of individual events during the meet at Butterfield included
Filip Palutkiewicz (50-yard freestyle and 100-yard freestyle) and Kamil
Kurpacha (50-yard backstroke and
50-yard breaststroke), who both compete in the 9-10 boys division. Maggie
Connelly won the 50-yard freestyle and the 50-yard butterfly in the 13-14 girls
division, while Wallace swam to victories in the 50-yard backstroke and 50-yard
breaststroke in the 15-18 boys division.
winning relay teams against Butterfield included the 9-10 boys foursome of Kurpacha,
Palutkiewicz, James Burns and Jason Hasler, which produced victories in the
200-yard medley and 200-yard freestyle races.
The Mariners opened their 2016
DuPage Swim and Dive Conference season with a 337-304 victory over the Addison
Frogs at Jefferson Pool on June 8. Villa Park won 31 of the meet’s 58
individual events and claimed first-place finishes in 12 of 20 relay races.
Palutkiewicz won three
individual events in the 9-10 boys level, swimming to victories in the
100-meter individual medley, the 100-meter freestyle and the 50-meter
backstroke. Wallace provided three more wins for the Mariners in the 15-18 boys
division. He earned his victories in the 100-meter individual medley, the 50-meter
backstroke and the 50-meter breaststroke.
Villa Park’s two-time
individual champions in the meet against Addison included Raffen, who won the
100-meter individual medley and the 50-meter butterfly in the 9-10 girls level,
and Andrew Hasler, who delivered victories in the 50-meter butterfly and
50-meter breaststroke in the 11-12 boys division. Carmela Frontzak (100-meter
freestyle and 50-meter butterfly) and Connelly (50-meter backstroke and
50-meter breaststroke) both won two races in the 13-14 girls level. Jack
Nettleton of the 13-14 boys division earned wins in the 100-meter individual
medley and the 50-meter butterfly, while Meghan Koterba won the 50-meter
freestyle and 50-meter backstroke races in the 15-18 girls level.
The Mariners’ winning relay
teams in the June 8 meet included the 11-12 boys foursome of Andrew Hasler,
Cole McGinnis, Tommy Nettleton and Brandon Zamar. The same four boys teamed up
to win the 200-yard medley relay and the 200-yard freestyle relay. Villa Park’s
13-14 girls foursome of Frontzak, Emily Gusel, Kelsey Fitzgerald and Cara Burns
also swam to victory in the 200-meter medley and freestyle relays.
The Mariners competed in
their second meet of the season on June 11, when they traveled to Bartlett to
face the Barracudas. Bartlett edged Villa Park 343-310 in the team results.
Villa Park swimmers who won
multiple individual races against Bartlett included Wallace, who won three more
races in the 15-18 boys level, and Connelly, who contributed three first-place
finishes in the 13-14 girls division. Bernardi and Maisie Thompson each won two
races in the 8-and-under girls level. Palutkiewicz contributed two victories in
the 9-10 boys division. Jack Nettleton (13-14 boys) and Johnston (15-18 girls)
rounded out the Mariners’ list of two-time individual champions.
The Mariners will continue
their season with tonight’s home meet against Hanover Park. Villa Park has a
bye on Saturday.