Jackson, Buemi highlight successful season for Hoban swim teams

After nine years at the helm, Hoban head swimming coach Nick Meyer still finds himself enjoying the ups and downs that accompany each season.

“The thing that is great about coaching at Hoban is that I get to work with some elite level athletes, but I also get to work with some kids who have never swam competitively before,” Meyer said. “We saw both ends of that spectrum this year and both of them are rewarding in their own ways.”

It’s always rewarding for Meyer when the season ends by watching Hoban swimmers compete at the highest level. This year, freshman Rylee Jackson and senior Nick Buemi qualified for the state championships on Feb. 24-25 at the C.T. Branin Natatorium in Canton.

“You can feel the energy in the building,” Buemi said of competing at the state meet. “It’s like a basketball arena or football stadium.”

“It was a really fun experience,” Jackson added. “It was great to see all the Hoban students who came to watch, and the school did a lot for us, too. We were on the TVs throughout the building and got recognized at Mass.”

It was a special year for Jackson, who broke three school records this season. Two of those records were set at the district championships on Feb. 17, where she placed third in the 50 freestyle (24.06 seconds) and fourth in the 100 freestyle (52.98). She set the 200 freestyle school record (1:58.02) at the Canton City Schools Christmas Classic on Dec. 17.

Jackson went on to finish 13th at the state championships in the 100 free and 15th in the 50 free. It was a strong debut season, and Meyer believes her mindset will allow her to keep improving.

“I always knew she was a good swimmer,” Meyer said, “but this year I learned that she really hates to lose. She’s a competitor. I think her season showed that she’s determined to make it to the elite level. And she still has room to grow, which is exciting.”

Buemi made a return trip to state this year after he was the anchor of the 400 freestyle relay team that qualified in 2021. He battled illness that sidelined him for multiple weeks in January and said he was “starting from scratch” from a training perspective before sectionals began.

“Health wise, he had a challenging year,” Meyer said of Buemi. “He got pretty sick in January and had to battle through that. But he put together great swims at the district meet and then at the state meet he swam his season-best time. It was great to see his hard work pay off.”

The season produced other memorable moments for Meyer and the team to feel good about. The boys team won the Cloverleaf Stampede Invitational on Dec. 30. At the sectional meet on Feb. 10, freshman Jack Sekerak broke senior Parker Smith’s school record in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:03.82. The following week, Smith returned the favor and broke the record again at districts with a time of 1:03.75.

The National Catholic Meet at Loyola University in Baltimore on Jan. 14-15 was a highlight of the season. It provided quality competition as well as a chance for the team to build camaraderie.

“The team was definitely more gelled this year, and taking that trip to Maryland really brought the team together,” Meyer said. “It was a big meet with very tough competition, and it was especially nice to reward the seniors with a trip for all the hard work they have put in over the last four years.”