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Positive vibes come from both programs

Zion's AllegrCodam(right) wins 50-meter freestyle next Waukegan's BrennSmith during swim meet Zion-BentHigh School Tuesday Sept. 4 2012. | Ryan Pagelow~Sun-Times

Zion's Allegra Codamon (right) wins the 50-meter freestyle next to Waukegan's Brenna Smith during a swim meet at Zion-Benton High School on Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2012. | Ryan Pagelow~Sun-Times Media

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ZION-BENTON 133, WAUKEGAN 31 (Event Winners)

Z-B: 200 medley relay — 2:19; 200 free — Grace Kluchka, 2:36; 200 IM — Alyson Kinsella, 2:58; 50 free — Allegra Codamon, 30.0; 100 fly — Olivia Cleveland, 1:17; 100 free — Sierra Cook, 1:05; 200 free relay — 2:02; 100 back: Sierra Cook, 1:15; 100 breast — Alyson Kinsella, 1:26; 400 free relay — 4:59.

Waukegan: 400 free — Karolena Hughes, 5:21.

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Updated: November 4, 2012 1:54AM

Slow and steady never wins a race in a swimming pool.

But that’s the direction the Waukegan and Zion-Benton high school programs have to take as literally are swimming upstream against every other team in the area.

On Tuesday, the schools competed against each other, with host Zion winning 133-31.

The only state-calibre performer in the arena — Zion diver Allegra Codoman did not take the plunge as Waukegan has no divers. Instead, she swam events with her teammates.

As for the teams, Waukegan coach Sarah Gershon is in third year with the program. She also coaches water polo at Maine South High School.

“Last year we finished with 16 girls in the program. This year we have 30, which I’m pretty excited about,” she said. “Hopefully the word is getting around that this can be a fun thing to be a part of.

“We have a lot of really young girls, including some who had never swum before, so you can see improvement just from day to day. There’s a very noticeable learning curve.”

With no chance to win meets, the Bulldogs focus on their own times. Their improvement is measured by the stopwatch.

“We focus on individual improvements. For our relay teams, I’ll put a time out there for them to try to beat. Those are the kind of goals we shoot for,” the coach said.

“I want them to have fun, have a good team experience, and hopefully see what a little hard work can do.”

On the Zion side, coach Tadd Galgan had this to say about his Bees:

“We didn’t bring in too many younger swimmers last year, but this year we have 11 new swimmers, including nine freshmen, which is about a third of the program.

“The discussion we had the other day was about working toward personal bests and racing the girl next to you.

“We know that in a lot of cases, we’re not going to be able to beat their first swimmer. We want them to be competitive when they’re neck and neck with somebody. Obviously we’re also shooting for personal bests every time out. It’s not going to happen every time, but it’s always a goal of ours.”

Olivia Cleveland, Z-B’s senior captain, likes the team this fall. She won the 100 butterfly and was on two winning relay teams Tuesday.

“This is just a phenomenal group of girls to be around. They all work hard,” Cleveland said. “There’s no drama or personal issues. We just love getting in the water and working together.”

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