OPRF senior Patnode keeps living up to expectations
Oak Park River Forest's Kyle Patnode swims in the consolation finals of the100 butterfly. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 19, 2013 12:33PM
ORLAND PARK — When Oak Park-River Forest coach Clyde Lundgren thinks about senior Kyle Patnode’s greatest asset to the team, swimming is not the first thing that comes to mind.
Considering Patnode was a two-time state medalist last season, that could be viewed as a bit surprising.
“He’s one of those special people that is not only a good swimmer, but a good person, too,” Lundgren said. “He’s done a really nice job in and out of the water leading the guys. He’ll get vocal when he needs to, but he also does a real nice job leading by example with the way he lives his life, how he carries himself and the way he treats people.”
Those qualities are some of the reasons why Patnode was named one of the Huskies’ three captains this season. Swimmers must first be nominated by their teammates and then go through an interview process with the coaches before becoming a captain.
“It was really cool,” Patnode said. “I know any other senior on the team could’ve done it. It was special to me, knowing everyone kind of looks up to me. I just hope I can live up to all their expectations.”
Junior Mark Hallman believes he is a better swimmer because of Patnode.
“He always pushes us in practice, especially,” Hallman said. “If we get lazy he never lets up on us for a second. As far as his personality, it’s not like he’s a tough guy. He knows when to be fun and when to be a leader. That’s what I like about him.”
Patnode and senior Nikita Bondarenko each contributed to four victories at the Sandburg Invitational Saturday in Orland Park to help the Huskies place fourth in the 14-team event.
Patnode took first in the 100-yard butterfly (52.07 seconds) and 100 backstroke (51.93), while Bondarenko won the 200 freestyle (1:43.84) and 500 free (4:43.60). They teamed with Nathan Pimentel and Hallman to win the 200 medley relay (1:39.66) and 400 free relay (3:15.31).
“I’m just excited to swim for OPRF,” Patnode said. “It’s a great group of guys. It’s always been more about family than the actual swimming. The swimming part is just the extra cherry on top that makes it all worth it.”
Patnode, who has committed to swim at Iowa, had an impressive junior season. He placed eighth in the 100 back and 12th in the 100 fly, but is looking to improve on those achievements this season.
Bondarenko also hopes to build off last year, when he took 11th in the 500 free and 12th in the 200 free at state.
“I think both Kyle and Nikita have been talking all year about trying to swim in the last heat of their events at state and get top six,” Lundgren said. “Everything we’re trying to do is in preparation for that. Their times are strong and I think they have a good shot. They put the work in, so it’s just a matter of staying healthy and following through.”