MICHIGAN CITY — Less than five minutes into Tuesday night's swim meet between Michigan City and La Porte, it was obvious who were arguably the two best swimmers in the pool: The Slicers' Becca Shaffer and the Wolves' Connor Baker.
It made sense, considering they both hold school records.
Shaffer was the first to impress, doing so as the third leg of the meet's opening 200-yard medley relay. She recently set a school record in butterfly and was swimming that leg of the relay Tuesday.
What started off as a close race between the two teams was broken wide open by Shaffer, who glided through the pool to set up freestyler Alicia Wireman to close it out with ease. Their time of 1:57.99 beat the second-place Wolves relay team by nearly 20 seconds.
"It's really nice knowing we can put her anywhere and she'll get us some points," La Porte girls coach John Doty said. "Interestingly though, she didn't work on butterfly in the summer. She's a natural at it."
Instead, Shaffer — who won the 200 individual medley and finished second in the 100 breaststroke — worked on breaststroke in the summer. It allowed her to become more skilled and dominant at a stroke other than butterfly or the IM, which includes butterfly, providing a nice luxury for Doty.
"She worked really, really hard this summer on her breaststroke," Doty said. "She dropped her time in it by a couple seconds tonight. I'm really proud of how her and the team performed."
The Slicers' Caiya Cooper earned first in both the 200 and 500 freestyles, while Abie Wiencek tallied first in the 50 free as well as first in the 100 free. Wireman claimed the 100 butterfly, and Lauren Miskowicz won the 100 back.
A heat after Shaffer led her team to victory in the 200 medley relay, Baker stepped onto the block ready to swim his own butterfly leg of the boys 200 medley relay. He was a part of the Wolves' boys team last year that broke the school record for the 400 freestyle relay and made it to state.
Baker's relay team was already putting on a show, but as soon as he dove into the water, it just about cemented a Michigan City victory in the event. The Wolves beat the second-place finisher by a lap and a half, coming in at a time of 1:51.35.
Baker, who has hopes of swimming in college after this year, dominated all night. He buried his opponents in the 200 freestyle (1:52.03) and 500 freestyle (5:09.04), while he led off the 400 freestyle relay to give his team a comfortable lead early on.
Baker credits his rapid improvement from an already impressive junior campaign to a summer spent in South Bend with Irish Aquatics. He swam in both the mornings and afternoons over at Notre Dame's facilities, with a heavy emphasis on long-distance events.
"It's really nice having someone like him (who can come in and dominate in any event)," Michigan City coach Mel Kovenz said. "I used to have four, five guys that can do that. This year, it's really just him. But I thought a couple other guys really stepped up for us tonight."
However, even with the Wolves' boys trouncing the Slicers' by a score of 105-63, Kovenz wasn't very pleased with how they swam. A 110-75 loss on the girls side didn't sit too well with him, either.
"We came out really flat," Kovenz said. "Luckily, we have a meet against East Chicago on Thursday that I think we can win. I hope they come in a little more fired up and ready to go."
La Porte's Lucas Banic finished first in the 100 fly and second in the 200 free, and freshman Grant Olson took second in both the 100 breaststroke and 500 free. Joe Bartoszewicz was second in the 100 free, while diver Toy Hayes placed second.
La Porte 110, Michigan City 75
Michigan City 105, La Porte 63