Boys Swimming: Lead role suits L-W North’s Surma
By Tim Tierney For Sun-Times Media February 16, 2014 9:38PM
Lincoln-Way North's Evan Surna is a four-time conference champ in the 100-yard backstroke. | Tim Tierney/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 17, 2014 2:11AM
The 2013 graduation of Lincoln-Way North’s top two swimmers, All-Stater Jake Pearson and Tony Mikrut, meant there’d be an opening for a leader this season.
It wouldn’t be an easy role to fill after Lincoln-Way North won the SouthWest Suburban Red meet last year and followed that by winning its own sectional.
Given the success he earned his first three years at North, Evan Surma realized what was ahead.
“I definitely knew it was coming, that it was going to be kind of my responsibility to lead the team this year,’’ Surma said. “They’re (Pearson and Mikrut) definitely missed because they were a big part of this team, but I feel I’ve shouldered the responsibility fairly well.’’
Proof is in the pool.
At the Feb. 8 SouthWest Red meet, Surma won the 200-yard individual medley (2 minutes, 04.18 seconds) and the 100 backstroke (55.54), his fourth conference title in the backstroke.
“It definitely meant a lot,’’ Surma said of winning the two events. “It was really nice to go out my senior year knowing I can still compete with the rest of the conference. I’m still at the top of my game.’’
Surma also swam on the first-place 200 medley relay (1:42.30) at the conference meet, teaming with Bobby Young, Shamus Shields and Patrick McGuire.
“We don’t have the standout swimmer like we’ve had in the past, so he has to be a leader on this team,’’ North coach Pat Shaughnessy said.
“They’re all kind of even …Evan has done a good job of stepping up and leading by example.’’
Having grown “a lot more confident’’ in his ability, Surma went from being an underclassman whom older swimmers tried to motivate to taking on the motivator role himself as a senior.
“Now I am that guy,’’ he said. “It’s come a lot easier to be the person to say ‘All right, we have one more to do. Let’s get it done.’ ’’
Surma had played soccer, football and baseball when he was younger. He decided to concentrate solely on swimming by the time he was in eighth grade. His father, Donald, was a swimmer at Homewood-Flossmoor.
Surma and his teammates will be at H-F on Saturday for the sectional. The winners, as well as swimmers who equal the event qualifying standard, will advance to the state meet a week later.
“Evan knows what it means to do well at sectionals,’’ Shaughnessy said. “I expect him to drop a lot of time.’’
“The close competition definitely brings out the best of us,’’ Surma said. “We train all year for this meet.’’
Individually, Surma qualified for the previous two state meets in the backstroke. He hopes to beat his best time of 53.3, reached in the 2013 state prelims.
“My underwaters are a lot stronger than they were last year,’’ he said. “My flip turns are a lot smoother as well. The technicalities have gotten a lot better.’’
Regardless of results over the next two weeks, Surma wants no regrets.
“I want to go out this season knowing there was nothing more I could do,’’ he said. “I don’t want to finish my last race and say, ‘I could have gone faster. I could have pushed harder.’ ’’