O'Fallon Progress

O’Fallon Breakers ready to dive into another season

From left, Breakers swim team coaching staff Kirsty Stooke, Megan Mueller, Katie Slaughter and Jessica Hattan.
From left, Breakers swim team coaching staff Kirsty Stooke, Megan Mueller, Katie Slaughter and Jessica Hattan. Matt Lloyd

Coming off a strong second-place finish at last year’s 2016 Midwest Swim Conference Meet championship, the O’Fallon Breakers swim team appears ready to again challenge for this season’s team title in the 10-team league. The Breakers have finished first or second in each of the last eight years.

“Last season was another terrific team effort,” Breakers Head Coach Kirsty Stooke, also coach for the McKendree Metro Rec Plex Seahawks swim team, said. “And we seem to have all the pieces in place for another strong season. But it won’t be easy. Highland — last year’s MWSC champion — returns many of their top swimmers, and St. Clair always seems to be right there at the end. But we’ll definitely be very competitive.”

Certainly on paper it appears the Breakers definitely have enough talent and just enough depth to challenge once again in 2017.

Leading the way is a cache of talented, veteran swimmers who are among the best in the area in their respective age groups. That group includes Natalie Edwards, Sierra Workman, Matthew Stooke, Michael Stooke, Shelby Bushong, Ella Peterson, and Samantha Stooke.

“Matthew, Michael, and Samantha all earned first-place overall High Point trophies for their respective age groups at least year’s conference meet. And Sierra, Shelby, and Ella all finished in the top three last season as well. Each have a history of success in this league, and I have no doubt they should all have another great season.

“Natalie didn’t participate in last season’s conference meet, as she had another meet conflict, but had earned a first-place High Point trophy through multiple age groups over at least five consecutive years,” said Stooke. “She’s also had great success at the high school and club level and will continue her swimming career at the University of Illinois, beginning in the fall. So with Natalie and Sierra leading the way, we should be pretty strong in that 15-18 girls age group.”

But the talent doesn’t end there.

The Breakers also expect plenty of points from Hanna Barnes, Grace Williamson, Jake Howey, Samantha Valentine, Edde Sue Doehring, Julia Scherrer, Alex Hattan, Will Richards, Yanni Guskey, and many others — including a few new swimmers to the team.

“We have a good combination of talent spread across multiple age groups,” Stooke said. “All our kids contribute to our success in some way. And, of course, the summer swim season is just a lot of fun.”

According to Breakers Board President Rick Edwards, participation in the Breakers program is an “awesome summer experience.”

“The kids have so much fun and work exceptionally hard. Our first practice starts at 5:45 a.m.,” Edwards said. “That’s early for a summer activity they choose. But these kids do it five days a week over seven weeks with little, if any, fanfare. Moreover, our coaching staff is rock solid. Kirsty swam at SIU Carbondale and has tons of coaching experience at multiple levels. And Katie (Slaughter), Jessica (Hattan), and Megan (Mueller) were all former successful year-round swimmers. I just can’t say enough about the great group of coaches, kids, and families that continue to carry on this 35-plus-year summer tradition in O’Fallon.”

The Breakers season starts June 13 with a meet against Westhaven (Belleville) and concludes with the Midwest Conference Meet on July 22.