A Tradition of Dominance: Bolles School Wins Swimming World’s Boys National High School Team Title


A Tradition of Dominance: Bolles School Wins Swimming World’s Boys National High School Team Title

The Bolles School has been a powerhouse in high school swimming for decades, and the independent school from Jacksonville, Fla., continued its dominance this past 2021-22 season in winning Swimming World’s boys’ national high school championship.

Bolles knows a lot about winning. By claiming Swimming World’s boys’ national high school championships this year, the school has now won 13 overall titles (public and independent schools combined) since 1995—seven for the boys, six for the girls.

Add in the number of national independent school team victories, and the total rises to 20 (12 boys’, eight girls’) ever since the girls claimed their first Swimming World independent school title in 1984. The boys won their first national championship (overall) in 1998.

The difference this year, says Coach Peter Verhoef, was the team atmosphere: “For this group of young men, what stands out is our depth. A lot of them believed they could make an impact, and that showed,” Verhoef said. “Culturally, when you look beyond the performances, this group really learned that everyone has something to contribute. They believed everyone in the locker room was important. It helped a lot of guys step up and have a bigger impact for the team.”

That impact added up in a big way.

Bolles scored 148 points for a convincing victory over Carmel (Ind.) and Southlake Carroll (Texas), which tied for second overall and first among public schools with 105 points.

Total Team Effort

Bolles excelled in most events, especially at the Florida Class 1A state championships last November, but it was the relays that set this group apart—the 109 points scored by the three relays alone accounted for enough total points to win the team title:

• 200 freestyle relay (40 points): #1-1:20.30 (Andres Dupont Cabrera, William Heck, Tucker Peterson, Ethan Maloney)
• 400 freestye relay (37 points): #1-2:58.10 (Seth Tolentino, Carter Lancaster, Andres Dupont Cabrera, Kayden Lancaster)—tied for first with Southlake Carroll
• 200 medley relay (32 points): #3-1:28.28 (Carter Lancaster, William Heck, Miguel Rojas Newman, Tucker Peterson)

“The relays were phenomenal. We got close to a few school and national records, which are the (Ryan) Murphy-(Joseph) Schooling-era records. We had guys step up and go for it with those swims. Those were the truly special moments,” Verhoef said.

There were some pretty fast individual performances as well.

• Andres Dupont Cabrera, a senior, won Florida state titles in the 100 and 200 free (43.74, 1:35.90), which were the sixth and ninth fastest times in the country.

“Andres in the 100 and 200 free was a catalyst for us—he had that wow factor. When he swims fast, it looks awesome. It was inspiring to watch. That was really energizing for the team to see someone create that power and speed. It helped galvanize the team,” Verhoef said.

• Will Heck, a junior, won the 100 breaststroke at the Florida 1A meet in 53.64—a school and state record—to claim the state title and finish fourth in the country.

“Will creates a lot of energy from his swims and his character on deck. He is a guy who can change the needle on where your atmosphere is,” Verhoef said. “He loves to compete and be racing. That really helps elevate everybody. He can change the temperature in the room just by showing up. He recognizes how important the people are around him.”

• Bolles received a couple of stellar performances from Miguel Rojas Newman as well. He won the 100 butterfly and 50 freestyle state titles.

“We didn’t even have him on a relay at one point. There were so many guys who could impact relays, so it made finding the right combination really fun. We just knew he was so smooth with his stroke. He started in August, and every meet he got stronger,” Verhoef said.

“Ethan Maloney, same thing. He came in as a solid breaststroker, and when we got to race day, he was 54. He had such a great improvement. It opened people’s eyes to what was possible.”

• Carter and Kayden Lancaster moved to Bolles from Carmel, Ind., and made an instant impact. Carter had the nation’s 15th fastest time in the 200 IM (1:46.91), which ranked third in Florida, while both brothers scored at the state meet.

“Kayden and Carter are leaders in practice and in competition. They came from a club that did a phenomenal job with them at Carmel. Those coaching there deserve a lot of credit. They let their attention to detail do the talking for them,” Verhoef said.

The Bolles Legacy

Between the transfers and the international students, it was a pretty diverse group, something Verhoef said the team needs to remember.

“If you look back at Bolles history, we have 63 Olympians, and they are not all U.S. swimmers. They are from all over the world. It is not new for us to have international stars. It is a big part of our school’s culture to celebrate diversity. We have a lot of cultures integrated on our team, probably 12-13 countries.

“While you are here, you don’t think as much about it because it is normal for us, but it creates a very neat diverse perspective that is bigger than us. The world is bigger than Jacksonville, Fla., and even the state of Florida. It is good for the kids to be a part of that. It adds so much perspective to our team.”

With a season like this one, Verhoef and his Bolles swimmers are looking at the next layer of perspective.

“We have a phenomenal staff to help everyone become well-rounded student-athletes. There are a lot of people who put in a lot of time with these kids,” Verhoef said. “For us, internally, a national championship gives us permission to be better. We know we can be this good—now we can think and dream a little bit bigger, however we want to measure it. It gives us the energy to come back and see what we can do. And it gives credit to the history we have in the program. When people see Bolles winning the championship, they see that it started before this current team of students and coaches.

“I think it is getting to the point with this group that what is next will be decided with collaboration from the coaches and the athletes. We work hard to give them a voice to what targets they want to set.”

Those targets will be high, as this year’s Bolles team will aim to continue the tradition of dominance, but find a way to add to their own legacy…just as the team did so masterfully this year—as national champions.

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