In middle school, Jaden Weiss quit his club swim team to focus on other sports.
It would’ve marked the end of the road for many swimmers his age. Were it not for the All-City Swim & Dive League, it likely would’ve been the end for him as well.
“The only swimming I had left for a while was this summer league,” Weiss said. “If I didn’t have this league I wouldn’t be swimming.”
Weiss, who graduated from Madison West in May, will be starting his collegiate swimming career at Seattle University in the fall — an outcome he says wouldn’t have been possible without the love of swimming he found during summers at West Side Swim Club.
“Absolutely not,” Weiss said. “Club swimming and high school swimming are very intense, but this summer league is all about fun.”
Weiss is one of 76 seniors who competed for the final time at the 2019 All-City Swim Meet on Sunday, and his experience is typical.
Twin sisters Anna and Emily Keebler of Middleton will join the programs at Illinois Wesleyan and Illinois State, respectively. Like Weiss, the All-City Swim & Dive League kept them excited about the sport in a way the high school and club seasons couldn’t replicate.
Their father, Tim Keebler, has a rule that the day he has to struggle to get them out of bed and to the pool is the day they stop swimming. Thanks to the All-City Swim & Dive League, he’s never had to worry about motivating them for a 5:30 a.m. wake-up call.
“My love for the sport and my enthusiasm about swimming, it wouldn’t be the same without this,” Emily Keebler said.
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After as many as 14 years competing in the league, the emotions can run high for seniors in their final meet. Even those who will continue to compete know that they won’t find another environment that combines competitiveness and fun in such equal measures.
Fortunately, the end of competition doesn’t have to mean the end of their involvement. The Keebler twins will continue with the league, supporting and coaching their two younger sisters.
Weiss has already transitioned to coaching, following in the footsteps of his sister Anna. His mother Erin also volunteers at the meet. For the Weiss family, as for many involved with the All-City Swim & Dive League, it’s as much about family as it is about competition.
“Our summers are built around swimming,” Erin Keebler said. “It’s helped them become really good leaders and also good swimmers. It’s a life-long thing that they’re going to carry with them.”
Swimming in the final individual race in the event, Emily Keebler finished second in the women’s 15-19 100-meter breaststroke final. Ridgewood’s Kiara Bissen won in a pool-record time of 1 minute, 14.16 seconds.
The men’s 15-19 200 medley relay final was one of the day’s most exciting events, with High Point anchor Andrew Martin out-touching Seminole’s Noah Gonring by two hundredths of a second. Seminole had nearly a second advantage at the start of the final leg but Martin closed it down with the support of a raucous crowd.
Despite moving up an age category, Tyler Choedak repeated his performance from last summer by capturing a pair of individual victories in the 13-14 100 backstroke and 100 individual medley.
Ridgewood won its fourth All-City title in five years, finishing with 2,698 points. Middleton was second with 2,420.5 points and Seminole was third with 2,206.