The La Porte Turbos navigated uncharted waters in the recent Age Group State 14 & Under championships at the IU Natatorium in Indianapolis, garnering what coach Brahim Hakim believes to be the first two state titles in the program's history.
"I've been involved in Indiana Age Group swimming for quite a while and I don't remember a state shampion from the Turbos," Hakim said. "If anyone knows of one, I'd love to find out."
Abbas Hakim, 12, and Gavin Crail, 10, accomplished the feat for the Turbos, garnering gold medals in the breaststroke.
Hakim won the 200-meter breast with a time of 2 minutes, 51.02 seconds, a margin of victory of 2.34 seconds. He also won silver in the 50 and 100 breast,, while racing Carmel's Carter Lancaster, the nation's top-ranked 12-year-old swimmer who broke six Indiana swim records in the meet.
Hakim grew up around the pool and began racing competitively at 4. His older brothers, Mohammad (21) and Ali (19), won multiple gold medals at Age Group State.
"It was only natural that he follow in their footsteps," Brahim said.
Crail is a speed demon who medaled in all six of his individual events. He won gold in the 100-meter breaststroke, clocking 1:29.67 to out-touch his friend Braedon Briggs of Highland by 1.23 seconds.
"Gavin is the fastest 10-year-old I've ever coached," Brahim said. "He's such a versatile swimmer at such a young age and he works as hard or harder than anyone on the team. Some of my workouts are a real challenge and the tougher they are, the more excited Gavin gets."
Along with his gold medal, Crail earned bronze in the 200 Individual Medley, 50 breaststroke and 100 butterfly. He finished fifth in the 200 free and sixth in the 50 fly.
Brelei Brown, 12, finished fourth in the 50 free (29.38) to round out the Turbos' medalists. She also finished ninth in the 100 Free, 10th in the 50 back and 13th in the 50 fly.
Landon Gillisse, Andrew Hayes and Jack Miskowicz all swam solidly in individual events. Gillisse dropped three seconds in his 200 freestyle and Hayes dropped six ticks in his 200 back.
The Turbos also had four relays compete. The 10 & Under Boys 200 Medley Relay of Miskowicz (Backstroke), Gillisse (Breaststroke), Crail (Fly) and Cameron Hatala (Free) finished with a 7th place medal in a time of 2:42.15.
The same quartet of boys finished 5th in the 200 Meter Freestyle Relay with a time of 2:22.15.
The 11-12 Boys 200 medley relay of Andrew Hayes (backstroke), Hakim (breast), Otto Wildhart (fly) and Roberto Smiertelny (free) finished 13th in 2:21.72. The 200 free relay of Hakim, Hayes, Smiertelny and Danny Villa finished 18th in 2:08.93.
The Turbos finished 12th out of 71 teams competing in the Boys Divison and 23rd overall.
Today, Hakim, Crail and Brown head to Fargo, North Dakota as members of the Team Indiana All-Stars to compete in the Central Zone Championship Meet, where the fastest swimmers from around that portion of the United States will gather for four days.
After the Central Zone Meet, these boys will get a much-needed break off three or four weeks from swimming before the Fall/Winter season begins the first week of September.
"I'm really excited about the upcoming season," Brahim said. "We've got excellent kids and coaches and people are going to know how great the La Porte Turbos are."
The Turbos train at LaPorte High School.