Burlington Co-op misses out on state, but kids enjoy personal bests

Zach Olstinske, Jimmy Keeker, Edmund Wright and Ethan Brannen pose after breaking the school record in the 200 medley relay Feb. 9 at the Pleasant Prairie RecPlex. (Mike Ramczyk/SLN)


By Mike Ramczyk


They may not be going to state like they ultimately hoped, but Burlington Co-op swimmers Zach Olstinske, Ethan Brannen, Jimmy Keeker and E.J. Wright will see their names on the wall very soon at the Burlington High School gym.

At the Division 1 Racine Park Sectional Saturday at the Pleasant Prairie RecPlex, the foursome broke the school record in the 200 medley relay, making waves with a blazing time of 1:42.30.

Brannen and Wright, both Waterford Union High School seniors, said it was a special accomplishment the team has been working for all season.

“It was a goal,” Brannen said Saturday at sectionals. “This year, the record is really close to a state time, and we’re excited.”

Keeker, a junior at Catholic Central High School, didn’t want the season to end for the Brannen and Wright.

“It feels absolutely amazing to break another record with my boys,” Keeker said.

The time was just shy of a state-qualifying time.

The Demons took fifth at the sectional with a score of 225.

Head coach Denita Jones said Saturday it was a good meet for the entire team.

“We’ve gotten all our best times,” she said. “I’m very pleased, the boys are doing a great job.”

“We’ve had steady improvement by all the boys all season.”

Brannen, who took third place in the 100 breaststroke with a 1:02.68, broke the record in that event twice this season.

Jones took five years off from coaching the boys team and only coached the girls.

She said it was nice to come back for this season.

“It’s been fun coming back to coach the boys again,” Jones said. “It makes for a long swim season, because the girls start in August.”


Record a career dream

For Olstinske, who is a junior at Burlington High School, breaking the school record has been something he’s wanted his entire career.

“I’ll see it every day,” he said. “It feels good to finally get up on the board at school.”

“Swimming came from my grandma. When I was 8 years old, she got me into private lessons. After she passed away, this is my way of remembering her.”

Olstinske said the record is the result of a lot of time and hard work in practice.

The Demons tapered the week before sectionals, which means they swam less to conserve energy for the big day.

“Denita knows what she’s doing, and that has helped this season,” Olstinske said.

Wright also credited Jones for improved workouts this season.

Keeker said the team has a ton of heart, and they push each other in the pool.

“Everybody pushes each other to the absolute best of their abilities,” he said. “Last year, missing out on state by one place really hit hard, so we gave it our all to try to make it again.”

Wright placed fifth in the 50 freestyle with a 23.37 and fifth in the 100 freestyle with a time of 50.69.

In the 100 butterfly, Keeker was fifth with a 55.37, and Olstinske was right behind him with a 56.24.

Wright, Olstinske, Brannen and Keeker took fourth in the 200 freestyle relay with a 1:33.83.

Their record-breaking time in the 200 medley relay was good for third place.