Lyons senior Joe Shannon always thought of himself as a water polo player, first and foremost.
But after becoming a two-time state qualifier, and likely headed for a third trip this season, swimming has certainly grown on him.
“I always considered water polo my better sport, but I guess I acquired talent in swimming,” Shannon said. “I have a knack for it. I don’t really swim year-round, but I wish I had to see how I could do. I like swimming. It’s tiring, but fun. It definitely builds character.”
In May, Shannon helped the Lyons’ water polo team capture the program’s first state championship. He scored a team-best 130 goals and dealt 33 assists while being named second team all-state.
“We have a lot of kids come into the program thinking they’re water polo players,” Lyons coach Scott Walker said. “They never talk about it during the swim season, though. It’s a good indication they can do both and be successful at both.”
Shannon has exceeded his expectations in swimming, even though he set lofty goals.
He easily won the 100-yard breaststroke Saturday at the Lyons Invitational with a time of 1 minute, 3.17 seconds. He’s also a key member of the relays.
“I want to get top 12 in state in the breaststroke this year,” Shannon said. “I was hoping my breaststroke would be better [at this point], but I’m doing better in sprinting than I expected.”
Shannon placed 31st at state in the 100 breast last season and teamed with current teammates senior Peter Dore, junior David Freund and graduated Danny McGuinness to get 26th in the 200 free relay.
Replacing the standout McGuinness on the relays this season is junior Brendan Weibel, who qualified for state last year in the 500 freestyle.
Weibel appreciates the help he has received from teammates, including Shannon.
“It’s really cool to watch [Shannon] and Peter Dore and Sean McMahon take on leadership roles,” Weibel said. “They’re really doing well at trying to get all the younger swimmers to swim real fast. They’ve really showed us what it’s like. I’m new to the relays this year and they’ve been welcoming to me.”