Dom Bottoni just wanted to find a pond to swim in. A seven-year vet with a regional appearance on the club scene in Illinois, the junior finally got his chance at Medina after his father transferred jobs over the summer.
He’s making the most of it. No stranger to the pool, Wauconda High didn’t have a swim team for Bottoni, so he had to do without.
Since he’s come to the Bees, it’s gone, well, swimmingly.
“It’s the drive and passion for swimming here at Medina,” Bottoni said. “Everyone is closer together. It makes swimming more fun. It’s definitely bigger than club. Club is more yourself. It’s more self-driven. Here, it’s everyone else. I feel like I have a lot more support. There’s not as much pressure. The opportunity is there to do so much better.”
As the Bees head into the Lakewood Division I Sectional on Saturday, Bottoni holds the team’s fastest time in the 100-yard breaststroke (1:01.86), 200 individual medley (2:03.26) and 200 medley relay (1:41.09).
“He’s got tons of natural ability and is just scratching the surface of how good he can be,” Medina coach Anthony Petruzzi Sr. said. “The biggest thing he’s had to adjust to is how hard we train, but he’s adjusted to it and is having a good year. He started practicing with me (with the Makos) in July. I saw he could go fast early in the season and he has just gotten better and better and better.”
Bottoni’s transition to Medina has been seamless, as his teammates have welcomed him with open arms. Brian Cuppett has been Bottoni’s go-to in this season of transition and hasn’t seen so much as a hiccup from his new teammate.
“I think he’s done great adapting,” Cuppett said. “He’s really putting in the work. He came in over the summer and within a month or two has really adapted to our team. We were able to do things together as a team and that helped.
“He’s been able to fill in for (2018 Gazette MVP Anthony Petruzzi Jr.) and really taken on his role. Over the past season, he’s definitely dropped a ton of time.”
For four seasons, the Bees never had to worry about fast times in relays, but they especially never fretted over the breaststroke and 200 IM. That was Petruzzi Jr.’s territory and everyone knew the two-time Medina County record holder and three-time school record holder was going to come through.
With the four-time All-Gazette honoree now swimming for Wittenberg University, Medina thought there would be a big hole in the lineup, especially in individual events.
“Once Anthony left, we thought those would be our two worst events,” Owen Chaye said. “We didn’t have anyone at first to fill in, but he’s filled in really well in both events. I think he’s got a good chance to be better than Anthony was as a senior. I just think he can put in more work and hasn’t even reached his peak yet when it comes to swimming.”
The biggest step comes Saturday at Cleveland State on yet another blank canvas. What Bottini does with that slate remains to be seen, but don’t be surprised if it’s littered with district qualifications.
“We put in so much work,” Bottoni said. “That’s helped a lot. There’s no rest. There’s the team bonding. I look forward to every practice. It makes it more exciting.”