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Archive for Tuesday, January 14, 1992

SOCCER PLAYERS TRADE THEIR SHORTS FOR SUITS AT LHS

January 14, 1992

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Dribbling a soccer ball downfield doesn't have much in common with, say, swimming the freestyle.

Heading one past a goalie doesn't compare to a 1 somersault off a diving board.

And yet, despite the absence of many overlapping skills, much of this winter's Lawrence High swimming and diving team is much of last fall's LHS soccer team.

This, despite the fact most of them are completely new to the water.

"Quite frankly, we couldn't put a team together without those guys," swimming coach Pat Grzenda said. "We've needed for years to get the numbers up. This group was a real boost for us, to have these guys, unexpectedly, just show up."

ACTUALLY, THEY didn't just show up. They were prodded there by Josh Stein and Andrew Poggio, two longtime swimmers who also play soccer. Aware the swimming team and its brand-new coach were desperately short on bodies, Stein and Poggio called on their soccer teammates.

When swimming practice started, Scott Vangemeren, Stuart Vance, Nate Pelsma and Chris Erb answered the call.

Only Vance, a junior, had any previous swimming experience.

"When I was young, I was on a swim team," Vance said. "But I was really young. We moved here when I was in second grade. I was on a swim team before that."

It didn't take Vance long to remember the rigors of the sport.

"It's really hard," he said. "The first couple of days, I thought about whether I should be swimming. I thought, `Should I be doing this?' I decided to stay with it. I'm not a quitter. I'm really glad I did. It's helped a lot. I'm a lot stronger."

VANCE SAID soccer stressed endurance and lower-body strength. Swimming, he said, called for greater cardiovascular fitness and total-body strength.

He said soccer still was his primary interest, and swimming simply is a means to stay in shape for next fall.

Still, Grzenda can't help but wonder what he and his teammates might have accomplished had grown up with a Speedo instead of a Rawlings.

"They're great to have," she said, "but I wish they had found swimming when they were younger. There's some ability there."

Vance has shown some ability in both swimming and diving. He has competed in the short freestyle events the 50 and 100 the 200 free relay, the 400 free relay and the 400 medley relay. Last week, he added diving to his resume, when he finished sixth in a triangular with Kansas City, Mo., Rockhurst and Shawnee Mission North.

"I (dive) for fun in the summertime," Vance said. "Muffy (Fehr, diving coach) asked me if I wanted to do it. I'm just kind of a body."

Bodies are, of course, what the soccer players lend to the swimming team, and Grzenda doesn't mind that swimming is second in most of the players' minds.

"TO BE HONEST, I'm just so glad we have bodies," she said. "I was afraid we'd have a team of 12 kids. That's just not enough bodies to have a full team. I'm delighted we're getting some interest from the soccer team. Maybe they'll go back and get more interested. It's great to see kids come out for a totally different sport, even if it's just to stay in shape for their primary sport."

And even if they still want to put a ball in a net.

"The guys are always saying, `Let's play water polo,''' Grzenda said with a laugh. "Maybe they're on to something."

Andrew Hartsock covers sports at Lawrence High. He can be reached by calling 832-7186.

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