Craig swimmers head to State



Ben Witt finishes a race. He will compete in the 100 fly and 200 free at the WIAA state meet on Saturday, Feb. 6, at Waukesha South High School.

It hasn’t happened since 2015. But in 2021, it will.

Craig’s boys swim team has qualified for State.

Under the direction of new coaches Matt Palma and Zach Boutelle, the team has shattered expectations and become one of the most accomplished boys swim teams Craig has had in years.

Sophomore Ben Witt will compete in the 200 freestyle and 100 butterfly. He will be joined by junior David Cummings and seniors Ethan Hundt and Kadin Wojcik for the 200 and 400 freestyle relays.

Sophomore Aiden Van Tuyle and senior Carson Dooman will attend as alternates.

The swimmers qualified at sectionals, held at Middleton on Friday, January 29.

At sectionals, every swimmer achieved a personal record.

“I’m just thrilled for the boys,” said Coach Palma. “They not only improved their times, but they consistently outperformed their competitors in doing so. They have worked very hard in the pool and I am very proud of everyone for all of their hard work this season.”

Witt’s times put him in the top 20 going into the State meet. He is seeded 18th in 200 free, his sectional time a 1:48.52. In the 100 butterfly, he is seeded 14th. His sectional time of 52.65 is less than a second away from the top 8.

In the 400 free relay, Craig will be joined by Parker in the first heat.

The philosophy of first-year coach Matt Palma has been to focus more on beating personal records and striving to be better than they were the day before, an approach that seems to have paid off. 

“We definitely knew that there was a possibility [of going to state], but the overall goal is just every meet, do your best. We try and focus on the process and just doing your best effort, and that’s the only thing that matters,” said Palma.

The focus on self-improvement was one shared by the team. 

“It can be a tough grueling thing, but at the end of it, it’s like in life as you do in swim: to try to do better than you were the day before, just trying to beat yourself,” said Ethan Hundt. 

Hundt joined swim his sophomore year and has never regretted it. “It’s a tight bond,” he said.

Kadin Wojcik agreed. “We see each other here as a family. We see each other almost four hours a day. We work hard for each other.” 

Carson Dooman shared the same sentiment, saying “It’s hard work and it takes a lot of dedication. It’s not for everyone, but we’re all like a family just like Kadin says.”

Going to state was a wonderful surprise for the team. 

“For us to go, it’s something that I didn’t think would happen for a long time. To be able to go to state for the first time, especially with the team that we have, it’s something incredible,” said David Cummings. 

Hundt agreed. “We went to state by quite a bit.  Personally, I didn’t expect to get in by that much.”

“None of us have ever been to state, so this is interesting,” said Aiden Van Tuyle.

But for some, like Witt, the victory was less unexpected due to some particular advantages unique to this season. 

“I think, this year especially, that it was a perfect year to go to state because of the fact that Madison is not in our division. This means that in our sectionals, the times we would have to reach are not as fast as someone as ridiculously fast as Madison,” he said.

The WIAA State Meet will be Saturday, February 6th, at 3 PM in Waukesha South High School in Waukesha. 

Tickets to the meet are $11 per session. However, for health reasons, it’s recommended that fans watch the meet on WIAA.TV, which costs $10.99/month. Viewers can subscribe and watch here: