By John Ring
Published January 6, 2022 in The Burg
The Galesburg Silver Streaks swim team is undefeated and went into this season head first in an effort to win the Western Big 6 Conference.
They are 5-0 (4-0 in dual meets) and under the guidance of Coach Ray VanHootegem, are looking for bigger and better things.
Along with being undefeated, they have good depth and a nice mix of seniors and younger members of the team. And one of those younger swimmers is Riley Stevenson.
Stevenson is just a sophomore but a savvy veteran of the team now after being with the Streaks last season as a freshman. “We have what you call ‘seniority’ on the team and when you have that you have a little more control over the team and things,” said Stevenson. “So the experience I got last year was good. I know now what to expect.”
Riley’s specialty right now is the 50 freestyle, the 100 freestyle and the 100 backstroke. He also competes on several relay teams. “We have good depth and a good team.”
Asked if the Streaks have a shot at the Big 6, Riley said, “I’d like to say it’s us but Moline and Sterling will probably be tough to contend with.”
On a personal level, Stevenson set some goals before this season started. He’s gunning after the 50 freestyle record for time that is currently held by Wilson Burton, who swam that race in 21.27. “I knocked a full second off my best time last season and I swam a 21.29 at the Conference Meet so I think it’s possible to do. So far this year, I’ve shocked myself with my times. So it’s going pretty good.”
Riley said it’s a combination of reasons for his performance so far this season and as a
freshman. “Mentality is a big part of swimming but the key for me is perseverance. You stick with it. You got to stick with it.”
“I used to hate swimming. In Day Care, I hated to get wet. But I’ve been swimming now for eight or nine years. The other thing is Ray is hard on us but he has a reason for it. He asked me earlier this year, ‘Do you know why I get mad at you sometimes?’ and I was like, yeah, why is that? And he said, “because I want what’s best for you.’ That kind of sums it up, that’s why Ray believes in us and is a good coach.”
Stevenson also has a routine he goes through after he gets his mind right, like Cool Hand Luke.
“I get my mind clear and some of us smack our chests to get the adrenaline going or I might do a high jump and then I say a prayer and point up to God.”
Whatever Riley Stevenson is doing, it’s right. He’s on target for his goals and the Silver Streaks look poised to have a very good season.