The Whetstone High School boys swimming team's 200-meter freestyle relay set the program and City League record a year ago when it won the conference championship in 1 minute, 36.11 seconds.

The Whetstone High School boys swimming team's 200-meter freestyle relay set the program and City League record a year ago when it won the conference championship in 1 minute, 36.11 seconds.

The relay broke the program record each of the next two weeks as well, including at the Division I district meet at Ohio State's McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion, when it finished 11th in 1:33.56.

While eclipsing the program record again likely will be difficult to achieve for the current group of swimmers on the relay, the conference record still is within reach for seniors Ivan Francis and Karl Fredal, junior Pete Pajor and sophomore Nick DiRutigliano.

Fredal is the only holdover in the event from last year. Also on the relay were 2009 graduates John Plisga, Zach Rhodes and Sam Thomas.

"I still kind of miss that relay, but I feel good about the relay this year," Fredal said. "We've got a lot of potential. We've been dropping times all year. We set our season-best time at Canton (Northeast Classic on Jan. 16) and we're hoping to drop even more time, especially with the City meet coming up (Feb. 6)."

Although the 200 free relay did not place at the Northeast Classic, it swam 1:39.56 to surpass its previous season-best of 1:40.96, which had been set at the Ned Reed Invitational on Jan. 9.

Fredal's split at the Northeast Classic, 23.84, led the group, followed by Francis (25.01), Pajor (25.22) and DiRutigliano (25.45).

"We've improved a lot since the beginning of the year," Francis said. "The four of us have all dropped necessary time. It helps to have (Fredal) pull through when we need him to and Pete and Nick are holding up their end, which is nice."

In addition to the relay's expectations of advancing from the sectional meet on Feb. 12-13 at Upper Arlington to the district meet on Feb. 19-20 at Ohio State, Fredal believes he should have a strong chance to advance to district in both the 50 free and 100 free.

Fredal also is swimming on the 200 medley relay, along with senior Kevin Blann, Pajor and freshman Nick Nottage.

Fredal, who is a student at Columbus Alternative, has been on the Braves' swimming team since his sophomore season. He believes the camaraderie of the team has been among the reasons for its success in relays.

"A large part of the reason we do so well is that we all want to swim for each other," he said. "We're really excited to have Pete and Nick on the (200 free) relay this year since one is a junior and the other is a sophomore. The mark we set last year is kind of far off, but the City League meet and our own personal records are (reachable), and I personally want us to get down below 1:38."

Although the Braves did not reach the final in any events at either the Ned Reeb or the Northeast Classic, Blann, DiRutigliano, Francis, Fredal, Nottage, Pajor and senior diver Wade Westbrook all competed for the boys team.

Seniors Courtney Foster and Rachel Renick, junior Jenny Merker, sophomore Olivia Degitz and freshmen Audrey Bollas and Alana Bruzzese represented the girls team at those two meets.

The City meet is at the Columbus Aquatic Center. Because there are not expected to be eight full teams in attendance in either the boys or girls meets, any titles won will not be considered official City championships.

The boys team has won eight consecutive unofficial City titles and the girls team has captured the last three unofficial league championships.

The 200 free relay, which features Bollas, Bruzzese, Degitz and Renick, is among the strongest events for the girls team. Its time of 1:50.94 at the Northeast Classic was nearly two seconds better than its time at the Ned Reeb.

At the Northeast Classic, the girls 200 medley relay of Bollas, Degitz, Foster and Merker finished in 2:10.97. Renick had the girls team's best times in the 50 free (27.84) and 100 free (1:00.65). For the boys team, Fredal led in the 50 free (24.13) and 100 free (52.89) and DiRutigliano led in the 100 breaststroke (1:10.98).

"We are the only City school to compete at both the Ned Reeb and the (Northeast Classic)," coach John DeRing said. "That Canton meet was a great meet. It's where the state meet is held, and I took four freshmen, because in another couple years they're going to be there. Nick Nottage is already a faster swimmer than Sam Thomas was when he was a freshman, and Audrey Bollas and Alana Bruzzese are coming on like gangbusters."