Bailey Bleser darts through the water at the SLC Relays. (File photo/SLN)


By Chris Bennett

Sports Correspondent

Burlington Co-op boys high school swimming coach Jake Hanson is refreshingly candid about Bailey Bleser’s performance at the WIAA Division 1 State Boys Swimming & Diving Championships.

Bleser, who attends Catholic Central, advanced to state in the 200-yard individual medley, and finished 24th out of 24 swimmers with a time of 2:04.61. The state meet took Feb. 17 at the University of Wisconsin Natatorium in Madison.

West Bend East’s Bryan Fitzgerald won the state title in the 200 individual medley with a time of 1:50.15.

Burlington Co-op consists of swimmers from Burlington, Catholic Central, East Troy, Union Grove and Waterford high schools.

Hanson and Bleser made the choice to tailor workouts in an effort to get Bleser to state. In swimming, the activity is called tapering.

Tapering is when a swimmer does not workout as intense in the time leading up to a big meet. Instead, the swimmer backs off on workouts, and focuses more on technique and conservation of energy.

“We did everything we could to get him to state,” Hanson said. “We tapered him to get in, and I was hoping our approach for state would allow for more time to come off, but it didn’t happen. It’s the risk you take when you try to get someone to state.

“I’m really proud of him.”

Bleser tapered for the Demons’ WIAA Division 1 sectional meet, which took place Feb. 10 at the RecPlex in Pleasant Prairie. Kenosha Tremper hosted the meet.

Bleser finished second in the 200 individual medley with a time of 2:01.05. Franklin’s Will Lennertz won the event at the sectional meet with a time of 1:59.02.

The strategy employed by Bleser and Hanson is sound, even if the results are not where either wanted. Bleser’s finish, when compared to the number of athletes who participated in boys high school swimming this season, places him among the top one percent of his peers.

“He is a fine young man, and I’m very grateful I had the opportunity to coach him,” Hanson said. “The most surprising thing is that I was hurting for him, and felt that I let him down. His response to his swim was so positive. He was happy to be there.”

Hanson said he looks forward to being coached by Bleser this summer on fishing techniques. Bleser has fished competitively since age seven.

Late last year, Bleser signed with McKendree University in Lebanon, Ill. and will join the Bearcats’ fishing program for the 2018-19 season.