Not able to visit Cincinnati in person because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Quinn Cynor relied on past experience. The Woodstock senior went to the school three years ago for a USA Swimming National Select camp and had a favorable first impression.
"The city is huge and the facilities are amazing," Cynor said. "They can offer tons of new things, like recovery options and weight training. The coaches are great people, and I believe that they can get me to where I want to go and accomplish all of my goals."
Cincinnati was one of the first schools to show interest in Cynor during the spring, right before the start of the pandemic, and he felt a quick connection with all of the coaches, especially on Zoom calls with assistant coach Steven Zimmerman.
Two days before his birthday in September, Cynor verbally committed to continue his academic and swimming career with the NCAA Division-I Bearcats. He signed his National Letter of Intent Nov. 17.
"Throughout the whole process, they have shown lots of interest in me and that's nice," Cynor said. "The coaches have NCAA Championship experience, and that is big, because that is my one big goal, to get to that level of competition."
Cincinnati was second at the 2020 American Athletic Conference Championships, seven points behind champion East Carolina. Cincinnati had won the previous two AAC titles, becoming the second team in conference history to clinch back-to-back swimming and diving championships.
Cynor, who plans on studying health sciences with a focus on athletic training and physical therapy, said that one of his long-term goals is to make a final in the NCAA Championships.
"Once you final there, you can kind of say that you're one of the best swimmers in the world," Cynor said. "That's easier said than done, but I really do think I can get to that point with the coaches and my teammates pushing me in practice."
Cynor holds every Woodstock North co-op program record but one (100-yard breaststroke) and had the best local finish at state last year for the third consecutive season. He earned Most Valuable Swimmer at the Fox Valley Conference Invitational and took third in the 200-yard freestyle and fifth in the 100 backstroke at state after winning sectional titles in both events.
Cynor has earned four state medals over the past two seasons: third-, fifth-, sixth- and ninth-place finishes. This year's winter sports season is paused, leaving Cynor and other athletes wondering when they will get another chance to compete.
Girls swimming was allowed to compete in the fall, but no state meet was held.
Cynor's club team, the Sage YMCA Piranhas, was reduced in August and underwent coaching changes, leading Cynor to join the DeKalb County Swim Team at Kishwaukee Family YMCA in Sycamore. He can schedule 45-minute blocks of individual practice, but team practices can't be held.
"I’d describe this year as crazy," Cynor said. "As a swimmer, it’s not like we can just go outside and work out. We need pool time. And right now, with the restrictions, that has been one of the hardest things to get."
Cynor said, more than anything, that he was looking forward to being back with his friends and teammates.
"The hardest part is not knowing when that next meet will be," Cynor said. "I'd really like to train with my friends and teammates again, just get that team experience back. Last year, each day would be a blast in practice. There’s not a lot of opportunities to get meets in, which is what all swimmers really want right now."