Wade Whiteside was a member of the 200 and 400-yard freestyle relays that qualified for the Class 3A state swimming meet last season for the Muscatine boys swimming team.
What sticks with the senior, however, is the event he didn’t qualify in.
Whiteside swam a 54.69 in the 100-yard butterfly at the district meet a season ago, which put him just outside of the top 24 to qualify for the state meet. He's determined to make sure that doesn’t happen again this winter.
“I put in a big offseason, as much time as I could,” Whiteside said. “I’ve had a focus since last year. … I barely missed making it to state last year. It’s been my focus for a couple of years now. I love that event.
“I really like the challenge of it. It’s a fast race but if you’re good at it you’re typically the best swimmer in the pool. It takes muscle and focus.”
The relays Whiteside swam on a season ago included current sophomore Ryan Boeding as well as John Wieskamp and Isaac Heth, who both graduated last May. That’s why coach Judd Anderson believes Whiteside’s best path to the state meet this time around will be in an individual event.
“That would be a great accomplishment on his part to be able to qualify in the butterfly,” Anderson said. “The relays are tougher to put together without Heth and Wieskamp.
Although he’s participated in a variety of events to start the season, Whiteside says he’s dropped time in the butterfly since last season. Strength is one of the most important factors in the butterfly, so the senior said he put in a lot of time in the weight room in order to drop “a lot of time.”
He’s confident it will be enough to find his way to the state meet come February.
“It’s not even a question in my mind I’m going to make it,” Whiteside said. “I’m too focused on it. It’s been the one thing I’ve been thinking about for three years now.”
But, what has made Whiteside such a joy for Anderson to coach is that he cares about his teammates' success just as much as his own.
“He’s really the leader of the group,” Andersons aid. “He’s the guy that leads the practice. He knows what’s appropriate, does what he’s supposed to and encourages everybody, especially the younger kids.”
Certainly, the Muskies do have promising younger kids on their roster for the 2018-19 season. They return Boeding, who placed 21st in the state in the 50-yard freestyle and swam on both the 200 and 400-yard freestyle relay teams that each placed 17th.
Muscatine also returns junior Daylon Shelangoski, who qualified in the butterfly and 200-free relay but didn’t swim in the state meet.
Anderson also has high hopes for Will Zillig in the butterfly. The senior didn’t start swimming until his sophomore year and didn’t pick up the butterfly until late in his junior season, which Anderson said is a “tough event to jump into.''
But the early results have been impressive.
“He’s one of those football guys who are pretty talented,” Anderson said, also referencing Thomas Lobianco, Carson Orr and Carson Borde. “We’ve got a bunch of football guys and they come out of that football program with a pretty good attitude.
“(Will) is very athletic and very strong. We’ll see where he goes this year.”
Still, it’s been a bit of an uneven start for the Muscatine swimmers. The team placed second in the Davenport West meet but dropped duals to both Bettendorf and Iowa City West early in the season with swimmers in and out of the lineup with the flu.
But if they’re able to regroup and get healthy by January, Anderson is optimistic about his team that has posted some good early season times.
“When you miss two or three days and you get knocked down and can’t get out of bed, to come back and get in the training program right away is very tough,” Anderson said. “We’re hoping to get through Christmas break and get as healthy as we can.
“We’re just trying to get better. We want to see everybody improve and they’re doing a pretty good job.”