The Dowling Catholic Maroons are chasing their fifth state swimming title in school history.
The Maroons took four straight titles from 2000 to 2003, this year they hope to break their 10-year dry-spell as they head to the State meet undefeated.
In mid-January the boys found out they were swimming for more than just another title, when their teammate’s father lost his battle with brain cancer.
Frank Bott was a longtime Maroon swim fan as the father of Sophomore Sam Bott, and two previous swimmers Becca and Joe.
“I haven’t met anyone that hasn’t liked Frank Bott,” senior swimmer Ben Severino recalled.
“He made a lot of people happy in life because of his personality and the way he treated people,” head coach Mark Crouch said.
Just five days after Frank’s passing the entire Dowling swim team gathered at St. Francis Church for funeral services to celebrate his life.
“When there was 30 bleach blonde haired kids… it cheered me up to see the bleach blond hair at the funeral looking ridiculous…it brought quite a smile to my face,” Sam Bott said.
The very same day the team took their heavy hearts and won the Central Iowa Conference swim meet, edging out 2nd ranked Johnston.
“We were all like we need to do this for Frank, we need to represent him. I think we did a great job,” Severino said.
“It was a different experience. Sad at first, then we swam for the Bott family and ended up winning,” senior swimmer Jon Fiepke said.
With every stroke, and every dive so critical now, the goal is simple, win state.
“I know he’ll be there cheering for us, and he’s got our back, so he’s watching over us,” Severino said.
“We’re hoping to make him proud of us by the end of the year,” Crouch added.