Four area swimmers enjoying success at UW-Milwaukee

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Tuesday, February 28, 2012
— Think only a big talent can make it in the big time? Think again.

Division I college swimming coaches don’t have Milton, Janesville or Delavan circled as must stops on their recruiting trips, but swimmers Jeff Maxwell of Milton, Jennifer Schoeber of Whitewater, David Dvorak of Janesville and Emily McClellan of Delavan came up big with UW-Milwaukee.

UWM men and women swept the three-day Horizon Championships last Saturday. The men’s team celebrated its third straight league title and first undefeated league dual-meet season in 20 years.

Sparking the Panther women, McClellan, a Delavan-Darien graduate, had three NCAA qualifying individual performances.

McClellan broke her previous league mark to win the 100 breaststroke with a time of 59.25 seconds, broke her record in the 200 individual medley with a 1:59.84 for the title and posted a 2:08.94 league record to win the 200 breastroke.

“All my swims kind of got me by surprise,” McClellan said. “I didn’t expect to do as well as I did. I don’t get it.’’

McClellan is the first-ever Horizon League female swimmer to record an NCAA “A” cut time, which automatically qualifies her for the NCAA Championships. McClellan will compete in all three events at the national NCAA meet in Auburn, Ala., March 15-17.

For her record-setting performances, McClellan, a sophomore, was named the Horizon League’s Swimmer of the Meet and Athlete of the Year.

“We’ve been great teammates and friends,” said McClellan, who qualified in the 100 and 200 breaststroke for the US Olympic trials this June in Omaha. “We’ve all become so close.’’

The four started swimming for the Jayhawks club team in Whitewater, and they remain close friends outside the pool.

Schoeber, a senior who is a Milton graduate, said the foursome got off to a good start with the Jayhawks.

“The Jayhawks gave us a really good work ethic,” she said. “We became hard workers.’’

Competing in any college sport for four years requires tenacity and help from teammates, Schoeber said.

“It was a tough road and a long journey, but my teammates kept me going,” Schoeber said. “There were some big bumps in road, but I stayed with it.’’

Despite some hard times, Schoeber said she is going to miss swimming.

“It’s weird to say, but I’ll miss the practices and feel of the water,” said Schoeber, who held records in the 100 backstroke, 200 freestyle and 500 freestyle at Milton. “It’s hard to explain.’’

Dvorak, a Janesville Parker graduate, began his collegiate career at the University of Iowa, but he transferred to Milwaukee last year. He is happy to be swimming with his old Jayhawk teammates.

“We are very good friends,” Dvorak said. “(McClellan) jokes that we are cousins. (Maxwell) and I have been friends since we started in the Jayhawks.’’

At the Horizon meet, Dvorak was a member of the winning 200 freestyle relay team and finished third in the 200 individual medley and seventh in the 100 breaststroke.

Dvorak said Jayhawks coach Cherie Zimdars was instrumental in teaching the right approach to college swimming.

“(Zimdars) was very good at preparing us for college,” Dvorak said. “It was more than stroke and technique, but just how to swim smart. We all have racing ability and the drive to win, but we were taught to race smarter.’’

Dvorak appreciates the good fortune of swimming at a Division I program with others who started with the same club team.

“The Jayhawks is a small club team,” Dvorak said. “It’s pretty rare that all four of us ended up in the same program.’’

Former Jayhawks and Milton graduates Jennah Haney and Hailey Foss are Division I swimmers at the University of Wisconsin and Eastern Illinois University, respectively.

“They were all big fish in small ponds that went to swim in big ponds,” said Zimdars, who with her mother, Joan Domitrz, began the Jayhawks program 21 years ago. “It’s different in college. There is a different level of training, and the competition is very different.’’

Maxwell said he could handle the practice, but he had to adjust to the competitiveness of his teammates.

“The intensity of the practices didn’t change, but the intensity of the people around me,’’ said Maxwell, who swims distance events. “I have five very good distance swimmers to train with.’’

And very good friends to share experiences with.

“It is pretty nice,” Maxwell said.

Last updated: 7:38 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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