Council Rock South captain Ray Ferki leads by example

Prevailing arctic conditions make most of us want to remain in bed all day, a luxury definitely not afforded the dedicated athletes performing on local scholastic swim teams. Council Rock South’s senior captain, Ray Ferki, proudly numbers himself among these aquatic stalwarts.

Entering the competitive swim wars when he was eight, Ray instinctively loved the immersion. “I had a natural love for the sport. It’s definitely a commitment. I just started getting into the sport and doing multiple strokes. Now, I don’t know what I’d do without swimming.’

During the scholastic season, Ray and his Golden Hawk teammates have plenty of chances to test their commitment. The weekly regimen is challenging and time consuming. There are three morning practices starting at 5:30, five afternoon sessions lasting an hour and a half, and a three-hour workout on Saturday.

Practice routines may vary but all inevitably require focus and effort. “We mix up the morning workouts. We vary between swimming and dry lands. It depends if the coach wants to work on techniques and turns. In the afternoons, we do a lot of endurance training. We’re always working on technique, especially for when you are tired.’

The grueling sessions not only sharpen the swimmers’ skills but also enhance their fraternal bonding. They all share in the agonizing demands as well as the ensuing rewards. “When you swim for a swim team, it’s like being part of a family. You’re always seeing these people. You’re always pushing each other to work harder. The goal in the end is to get the best times.’

As captain of the Golden Hawks, Ray knows he needs to “push’ both himself and his teammates. The best way to lead is through example. “I’m not swimming club right now. As captain, I wanted all my focus on the high school team. I wanted to lead the guys as past captains have done and follow the tradition.

“There are no written rules about being a captain. It’s all about tradition and knowing how to be a leader and an inspiration to your teammates.’

On Jan. 30, Ray got a chance to inspire his teammates as they entered their last double dual meet of the regular season, a showdown with archrival Council Rock North. Ray knew this year’s matchup would be exciting. CR North sported a 5-0 league mark. South was not far behind with a 4-1 record in the highly competitive SOL National Division.

The Council Rock natatorium would certainly be alive. “This is always our big meet. It’s Council Rock North and South. We always look forward to it. We can expect great races and best times. There’s a lot of energy at this meet.’

Ray’s words proved prophetic. The Indians started strongly by winning the 200-yard medley relay. The Golden Hawks rallied back behind Anton Shostak’s victory in the 200 free. Ray Ferki followed, taking the rugged 200 IM in a time of 2:08.23. He would later come back and take second place in the backstroke.

Ray’s conquest in the 200 IM proved particularly satisfying. “The backstroke and the IM are my favorite races. The IM can be tough because it is all four strokes. The strategy is to go out and swim my hardest in each stroke and really work on the turns. It takes a lot of focus.’

Unfortunately for Golden Hawk followers, their favorites were unable to maintain their early lead, eventually succumbing by a 108-77 score. South’s girls team also met defeat, losing another close one by a 109-75 margin.

With the regular season over, Ray and his teammates can now prep for the league and district championships. “This has been a great season for South. We’re looking forward to the SOLs. My team has worked hard and I am proud of them. My personal goal is to get my best times and help the relay I compete in get to the districts.’

Obviously, all the hard work and sacrifice have yielded big rewards for Ray and the rest of this year’s Golden Hawk swimmers.

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