LINCOLN PARKS – The Southgate Anderson boys swim team may have found a new home and a winning combination following their successful two-season merger with the Lincoln Park High School boys swim team.
The combination came about as a result of Anderson not having enough swimmers to field a team the past few years.
LPHS boys swim coach Michael Higgins, who has coached for the past 30 years, and is also a Lincoln Park City Council member, said they have one swimmer who has made the Michigan meet, which is like a state qualifying meet, and they have two swimmers who qualified to go to the Wayne County meet for the first time in 30 years, which is exciting for the team.
Higgins said it is also exciting to have swimmers qualify for the state meet – one LPHS and one Anderson swimmer, who encourage each other.
“They push each other, and they have become very tight,” Higgins said. “It is fascinating to watch.”
Joshua Harbowy of Anderson qualified for the 100-meter butterfly, with a new team record this year of 57.99 seconds, and in the individual medley, which uses all four competitive strokes: butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle.
Because of the recent school closures due to the weather, the swimmers were not registered in time to compete at the state meet, but that leaves them free to compete with the Gators, the Southgate Downriver Family YMCA club swim team, to which they also belong.
Higgins said he hopes to take Harbowy to states next year when he is a senior.
Harbowy, with Jake McDowell of LPHS, are two of five swimmers who compete in the four-man 400-meter freestyle relay.
The swimmers are LPHS swimmers Philip Wheatley and McDowell, and SAHS swimmers Joshua Harbowy, Ethan Coombs and Landen Wood.
“We have had five guys break a four-man record, because every week we change it up,” Higgins said. “Another guy goes in and another one breaks it. It is really cool that they are interchangeable and they can go on other relays and help the other ones.”
Higgins said Harbowy and McDowell are always taking an active role in mentoring and teaching the younger swimmers on their own time to help bring them up to speed.
Higgins said he originally met some of the Southgate Anderson swimmers through the Gatos.
Ethan Coombs, 17, a junior at SAHS, who has swum with LPHS for the past two years, said he knew some the LPHS swimmers through the Gators.
“I like to do swim, and I like the people on the (LPHS) team,” Coombs said.
Harbowy, a junior at SAHS, said he really feels like he is a part of the LPHS team. The SAHS team swam with Gibraltar Carlson High School in the past, so he thinks it is “cool” to have earned Southgate Anderson, Carlson and Lincoln Park high school swim letters. He said he has a Southgate Anderson varsity jacket for the school letter, and he said the other letters are to show where he has been.
“The guys are really friendly and they really try to include us Southgate kids,” Harbowy said. “Especially this year – we have all become a lot closer.”
Higgins said Harbowy is an exception swimmer, and the 100-meter butterfly record which he broke this year had stood for more than 30 years. He said Harbowy came in 12th in the county after not swimming for a week because the school was in a weather-related closure.
“I truly believe he could swim in college – major college,” Higgins said. “There is no doubt in my mind that he is Big Ten worthy.”
Higgins said the reinstatement of the Lincoln Park middle school swim team, which is now 50 students strong, is also helping their program, since in the past, they had to teach many of the swim team members from scratch at the high school level.
“I am so proud of them and how far they have come in two years,” Higgins said.
(Sue Suchyta can be reached at [email protected])