Elks look to continue GWOC swimming dominance

With the Greater Western Ohio Conference swimming and diving championships this weekend, Centerville High School coach John Nemeth can relate to the other 17 schools’ goal of ending the Elks’ dominant run. The boys have won 18 straight titles and the girls have won 17 straight.

Nemeth, the second-year coach for the Elks, swam his final three years at Denison University and in the wake of perennial NCAA Division III champion Kenyon College. As Kenyon racked up 31 straight NCAA championships, Denison finished third his sophomore and junior seasons and second his senior year.

Denison did overcome Kenyon to win the 2011 and 2012 NCAA championships, which is a message Nemeth hopes his Elks understand: Don’t take those championships for granted.

Centerville enters as favorites again to win both the boys and girls conference titles at Trotwood-Madison High School. The division championships are Saturday with the Central at 9 a.m., North at 2 p.m. and South at 7 p.m. The overall conference meet — with the fastest swimmers from Saturday’s action advancing — is 2 p.m. Sunday.

In 2012, the Centerville boys outpointed runner-up Beavercreek 572-319 and the Centerville girls outdistanced Beavercreek 600-267. Both Elks teams are coming off strong third-place showings at the highly competitive Southwest District Classic last weekend.

“We have a good senior class for both the boys and the girls,” Nemeth said. “I think there’s some pressure on them (to keep the streaks going) but it’s a good group of kids and they are more than willing to step up and do what we need to do this weekend.”

Purdue-bound Josh Brooks — who Nemeth called “probably one of the most successful swimmers in Centerville history and one of the most dominant swimmers in the state” — and Jake Carlson highlight the effort for the boys. Senior Marisa Pulaski is coming off a strong Classic meet for the girls.

Just a few years removed from his own competitive swimming days, Nemeth can appreciate the effort given by swimmers as conference, sectional, district and state meets approach.

“I got in the pool the other morning and I was like, there’s no way,” Nemeth said of those tough workouts. “The amount of work they have to put in I obviously remember, but you can only do it for so long.

“You have a lot of respect for the kids who are doing it and getting up at 5:15 in the morning. For them to be this dedicated at that time of their life is pretty impressive. I’m glad we have kids to work with that dedicated.”

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