To many kids, swim team is a fun summer activity that lets you hang out at the pool every day, spend time with your friends, and have lots of fun. To others, though, it's a lifestyle and a means to a goal.
Take Gunnar Bentz, for example. The Tucker-area 15-year-old set two new DeKalb County records last week at the championship meet, when he swam the Boys 18 & Under 100 yard IM (Individual Medley) in 51.90 seconds. That's four laps of the pool, one of each stroke, all in under a minute. Not only that, but a couple hours later, he did it again, setting the new record for Boys 18 & Under 50 Yard Breast Stroke at 26.96 seconds. He also holds another DeKalb County record, from last year, when he swam the 100 IM in the 14 & Under Boys division in 54.70 seconds.
Bentz, who swims for Nottaway Swim Club in the summers, swims year-round for Dynamo, practicing nine times a week. "Gunnar has almost all of the records at our pool [Nottaway]," said his coach, Kenzie Bentz. He holds records at his school, St. Pius X, and National Age Group records, as well. "He swims six days a week, every holiday except Christmas, and he's been doing it since he was ten," Kenzie, his sister and coach at Nottaway, said. "He wants to be in the Olympics."
With the records he's setting and the national attention he's garnering, Bentz is definitely one to watch.
Many other Tucker swimmers fared well this season, too. At the DeKalb County Championship Meet, Raleigh Bentz of Nottaway took 1st place in both the Girls 12 & Under 100 Yard IM and the 50 Yard Freestyle. Mason Bruning of Winding Vista took 1st place in both the eight & Under Boys 100 Yard IM and 25 Yard Breast stroke. Three other Winding Vista swimmers also earned first-place medals: Thomas Lowman in the Eight & Under Boys 25 Yard Backstroke, Georgia Brieske in the Girls Ten & Under 25 Yard Freestyle, and Will Trocchi in the Boys 8 & Under 25 Yard Butterfly.
Lisa Medford of nearby Lindmoor Woods scored a 1st place medal for the Girls Ten & Under 25 Yard Butterfly. Smoke Rise and North Umberland, other nearby teams with Tucker swimmers, also both had several swimmers make it to the finals and finish in the top 20 for their events.
Winding Vista’s 8 & Under Boys (Thomas Lowman, Mason Bruning, Will Trocchi, and Nathan Brieske) took first place in the Medley Relay, as well. "It can be really hard swimming by yourself. But when you have great teammates to help you in a relay, it is a lot of fun. I was surprised we won the medley. But our relay was unique because we all had a really good stroke that was different from the others," Thomas Lowman said.
“As one of their coaches I am extremely proud of all of our swimmers' performances during the county meet. Most swimmers dropped time even if they did not make it to the finals,” said Coach Ross Phillips of Winding Vista. "These swimmers are an inspiration to all of the coaches who work with them and are a testiment to hard work and determination."
Coach Kenzie Bentz echoed that sentiment when she said "third or fourth place, even, in a meet like this, is huge." With around 1000 swimmers participating in events over two days, many would have to agree.