Swimming is a way of life for brothers Caleb and Justice Wenz, whose dedication to the craft was key to reviving a long-dormant program at Lutheran High North.
Justice and Caleb, a sophomore and freshman, respectively, enrolled at the Garden Oaks private school in the fall and helped restart a swimming program. The school had not participated in the sport in nearly a decade.
There was an immediate payoff both for the Wenz brothers and their new school as they represented the Lions at the TAPPS state meet on Feb. 6 in Mansfield, with Justice placing third in the 200-yard individual medley for Division 3.
“We both started swimming in summer leagues when we were younger, so it’s something we’ve always been doing,” Justice said. “We were talking with (Head of School) Dana Gerard about how we were swimmers and wanted to start a team. He introduced us to [Athletic Director] Baretto, and it went from there.”
Baretto said he had reservations about starting a program, because the Wenz boys were new to the school and he was unsure about their level of commitment. After a few conversations, however, he was sold.
The Wenz brothers’ parents, Chris and Cynthia Wenz, served as their coaches and spearheaded support for the program. Baretto collaborated with athletic directors and coaches from other schools to get them set up for meets.
“Eventually, I came to believe I could trust these guys to spearhead that,” Baretto said. “All I really did was facilitate their journey to get to that point.”
In preparation for meets, the brothers practiced at least 15 hours per week, using the pool at Dad’s Club on Voss Road. They prepare their own meals and self-manage their regimens.
The swimming part is second nature to the Wenz boys, who began at a young age. They know how to focus on their workouts and block out everything else.
“A lot of swimming is about mental toughness, so if you’re superstitious and then accidentally do whatever that is, you’re stressed,” Caleb said. “I just try to stay relaxed, because I’ve noticed that the more relaxed I am, the better I do. When I’m just putting all this stress in my mind, I don’t perform.”
The brothers’ preparation served them well at the state meet. Justice’s third-place finish in the IM came with a school-record time of 2 minutes, 5.25 seconds, which broke David Bodden’s 2008 record of 2:15.16. Justice also finished fourth in the 100 breaststroke, setting another school record with a time of 59.16, which bested Bodden’s 2009 mark of 1:07.62.
Caleb finished eighth in the state in the 100 butterfly and 15th in the 100 freestyle.
Live streams of the meet were set up on TV screens all over the Lutheran High North walls, allowing students to cheer on the brothers.
“I love being a part of tying the community back together and looking at those videos of everybody cheering us on,” Justice said. “We’re new to this school, and it’s awesome to see everyone coming together around this and celebrating it.”
Baretto hopes to expand the program in the coming years and has fixed that hope on the shoulders of two underclassmen. It’s a sizeable vote of confidence that, to this point, has been rewarded.
“It’s been incredible watching how the entire community has rallied for them,” Baretto said. “It’s easy for me to trust them to be faces of this school and spearhead this thing.”