DeKalb Chronicle Article about DCST Swimmers at IHSA State Meet

Ishimaru head strong this time around

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The questions would flood into DeKalb-Sycamore co-op swimmer Kei Ishimaru’s head before races during his sophomore and junior years.

Was he good enough? Did he train hard enough?

“The past few years I’ve definitely had some problems trying to focus myself, trying to prepare myself mentally,” said Ishimaru, who qualified for this weekend’s state meet in 200-meter individual medley and the 100 butterfly.

This year has been different for the senior.

“This season, I know how hard I trained, and (coach) Leah (Eames) and I have talked about my goals for state over and over throughout the season,” Ishimaru said.

Ishimaru surprised himself last year in the 100 butterfly at the state championships by missing out on a top 12 finish, which would have qualified him for consolation finals, by only one-tenth of a second.

This year, he’s more focused. He doesn’t cut corners in practice like he used to.

“He was one of those guys that had talent, and maybe he wasn’t as serious as he probably should,” Eames said. “As he’s grown older and matured and gotten faster in the pool, I think he’s realized what he’s capable of doing and how far he can go.

Eames continued, “In the last couple of years I’ve definitely seen a big change in his work ethic. He’s made some big goals for himself this year.”

Ishimaru has made it a point to be a leader.

He’s helped sophomore Ryan Schultz, who qualified for the state meet in the 100 breaststroke, overcome a weakness that he struggled with in previous years.

“He doesn’t really get nervous that much, which is one of my weaknesses,” Schultz said. “I’ve learned how to handle myself in big meets.”

Schultz’s expectations this year simply were to make it to the state meet. He isn’t expecting anything in particular out of his performance today.

Eames says she thinks that can be a good thing.

“I think there was a pretty big weight on his shoulders last weekend [at sectionals] just as far as making it to the state meet,” she said. “I’m excited to see what he can do this weekend. At this point, he knows he has nothing to lose.”

Ishimaru used to be unsure of himself like Schultz.

Now, the Illinois-Chicago commit knows exactly what he can do.

“I have my future set already, I’m going to swim in college. I have to take the responsibility head on. It’s my job now, I have to do this,” he said. “I should be mentally prepared for this weekend. I have no doubt in my mind that I’ll make the top 12 in the 100 fly. I missed it by a tenth (of a second) last year. I’ll make sure I have no regrets. “