Lindbergh swim team finishes second in state

Lombardo named Coach of the Year

By STEPHEN GLOVER

With just one event remaining at the Missouri High School boys’ swimming and diving championships, the Lindbergh High School Flyers knew they had to beat Blue Springs to secure a second-place finish in the team standings.

The Flyers had placed fifth in the preliminaries of the 400-yard freestyle relay with a time of 3:17.83, more than a second behind Blue Springs’ mark of 3:16.66. But Lindbergh had a slight advantage in that three of the four members of its relay were seniors. Seniors Niko Filipi, Steve Nester and Michael Dahle and junior Teddy Key were Lindbergh’s last weapon in a battle of pool supremacy.

“This was the best race of the day.” said Lindbergh head coach Tim Lombardo, who was named the state’s Coach of the Year.

Filipi took the leadoff leg and clocked a 49.66, which had the Flyers in fifth place after the first leg. Key’s second-leg swim of 49.02 helped pull the Flyers into fourth place with two legs remaining. Steve Nester’s third-leg swim of 47.53 pulled the Flyers into third, nearly one second behind Suburban West Conference opponent Lafayette.

But it was Dahle who clocked a 48.70 on the anchor leg to beat Lafayette by nine-hundredths of a second to give Lindbergh a second-place finish in the event and a second-place finish overall with 160 points.

It was the first time a Lindbergh swimming and diving team had cracked the top four since 1979.

The Flyers started the meet on a good note with a win in the consolation final of the 200-yard medley relay to take ninth place. Lindbergh’s foursome of Dahle, senior James Goodman, Key and sophomore Kyle Schnoring clocked a 1:42.02 in the preliminary round, just behind Oakville’s mark of 1:41.48. But the Flyers regrouped in the consolation final with a time of 1:41.61 to take ninth place.

Nester then went to work, taking down two school records — the first being the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 21.83 in the preliminaries. His time of 21.99 in the championship final was just off his school-record performance, but was good enough for a fifth-place finish. He also cracked the 100-yard freestyle record with a time of 47.92 in the championship final for sixth place.

“Steve has been unbelievable for us all year long,” Lombardo said. “From the first meet of the year to the last, he has just gotten better and better.”

Lindbergh scored a double whammy in the 500-yard freestyle as Dahle took sixth overall with a time of 4:47.62. Dahle bettered his sixth-place performance in the 100-yard backstroke with a third-place finish in the championship final and a school-record time of 54.13.

“Michael was actually leading after the 200-yard mark (in the 500 free) and just couldn’t bring it home,” Lombardo said. “With him swimming back-to-back events, it really shows his toughness.”

Key racked up a 10th-place finish with a time of 4:50.75. He actually gave up one of his individual events to swim on three relays and give Lindbergh a better opportunity of scoring more points, according to Lombardo.

“We took an individual event away from Teddy in order to have him swim in all three relays,” he explained. “Teddy swam unbelievably well, and it really paid off for us.”

Lindbergh had another strong showing in the 200-yard freestyle relay with Filipi, Schnoring, Key and Nester finishing fourth overall with a time of 1:30.50.

Goodman also broke a school record in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 59.88 in the preliminaries and then backed up that performance in the championship final with a time of 59.58 to take third place.

“James had set the goal that he wanted to break the one-minute mark at state and he did it on Friday and then backed it up on Saturday,” Lombardo said. “It was just a terrific job by him.”

Lombardo’s Coach of the Year Award was fitting as Lindbergh grabbed second place this year after finishing ninth last year.

“It was a very nice honor in that coaches recognize the work that our guys have done,” Lombardo said. “But it’s really a product of the way our kids swam. I think that I’ll enjoy the second-place finish a lot more than the Coach of the Year Award.”