Photo by Jeff Yoder
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – The season-long plan that West High head coach Byron Butler lays out for his team consists of a straightforward end goal.
“We want to be swimming fast in February,” Butler explained.
While the desired outcome of the plan is pretty simple the process that it takes to achieve that goal is anything but.
That is where leadership, guidance and a strong work ethic come into play.
For the current group of West High swimmers that is where junior Izaak Hajek enters the plan.
“The thing I have been most impressed about with Izaak is he is more in the leadership role now as a junior and he is more of a lead by example type of guy and he’s great at that,” Butler said. “Every day he just grinds in practice and does everything that we ask him to do.”
With two years of varsity experience Hajek has seen the plan to produce in the postseason, namely at the state meet, play out twice.
That experience has helped Hajek become the main leader on a young West High team with 23 freshmen and one of the top swimmers in the state.
“Some of the younger guys can get frustrated if they didn’t have their best time every time out and I have to remind them we just lifted yesterday or we just had a tough practice,” Hajek said. “It’s just all about racing the other guys. That’s what I tell them every time is just race.”
The goal for Hajek and the rest of the West High swimmers is to be fast in February.
Hajek has been plenty fast in the pool already this season.
The junior boasts the top 100 butterfly time in the state this season at 51.76 and his time of 1:59.1 in the 200 IM is the second fastest in Iowa this year.
Hajek is also a member of West High 200 medley relay and 400 freestyle relay teams that have clocked top-four times in the state this season.
“I think I built a lot of confidence last year,” Hajek said. “The last two years I felt like I was still just getting into it and this year so every dual meet I’ve been able to put up my best and just swim through the pain. I’ve been getting a lot more confidence with the times I’ve posted.”
Hajek won four events at the Dubuque Quadrangular earlier this month and is coming off an impressive performance at the Little Hawk Invite that included titles in the 100 butterfly and 200 IM.
The winning time of 1:59.1 in the 200 IM for Hajek is less than a second off the top time of his career.
“His IM is what has been really impressive,” Butler said. “Being sub-2 minutes twice and his best time ever is 1:58 so that sets up him up really nice for the end of the year.”
As impressive as the early season times have been for Hajek what has impressed Butler even more is his leadership in and out of the pool.
As Butler attempts to express to the young West High swimmers the importance of training throughout a long season Hajek has provided a strong example of how to weather the storm of the long regular season.
“The leading by example is very, very natural for him,” Butler said. “I think the guys look up to him they see how he acts and the confidence has. He has just totally bought in to what we preach that we are going to swim fast in February and all of these meets are practices for the end of the year and he tells the other guys that as often as he can.”
A four-event state qualifier from a year ago Hajek knows how to be swimming his fastest in February.
This February he hopes to be swimming faster than anyone else in the state.
“I’ve been going every morning practice and we’ve been lifting three times a week now and that helps,” Hajek said. “It’s more just getting up and reminding myself that I want to win state so I have to go do this.”