Alek Filipovic, one of the most decorated swimmers in Illinois throughout his high school career at St. Charles North, has another level to go.
St. Charles North coach Rob Rooney certainly thinks so.
“On the national scene, his development still has a ways to go and I think that’s something important for him,” Rooney said. “I think he realizes it’s not there yet, but he’s getting there. All the schools he was looking at were ultra-competitive in the swimming side. They’re all very good academic schools, too.”
A team champion with the North Stars in 2019 and 2020, Filipovic added another chapter to his legacy this year. At the IHSA state meet in February, the Texas recruit captured the 200-yard individual medley with a time of 1:46.14. That was just .12 off the state record and 3.26 seconds faster than the runner-up, Stevenson sophomore Colin Zhang.
Filipovic also won the 100 butterfly in 47.60 seconds, the second butterfly title of his career. He previously won the virtual event in 2021, when the state meet was not officially held because of the pandemic. Filipovic was a sectional champion this season in the 200 IM and 100 butterfly.
Considering his high school season accolades, Filipovic is the 2021-22 Kane County Chronicle Boys Swimmer of the Year.
At the National Club Swimming Association national meet earlier this month, Filipovic took fifth in the 50 free (20.24), 17th in the 100 free (43.76) and 200 free (1:37.23) and third in the 200 butterfly (1:45.90).
“What I see is a young man who trusts a number of people to help him to become a better person and be a better student-athlete,” Rooney said. “He’s ultra competitive in pretty much anything he does. … He just likes to compete.
“It’s not necessarily about the venue of competition, it’s just the nature of competition. I think that says a lot about him as a person and how he functions.”
Filipovic wanted “to show I was the guy to beat.”
“Maintaining my spot and kind of furthering it was basically what I wanted to do this year,” Filipovic said. “I just train how I do. That’s why I’ve been one of the best for over 10 years now in Illinois swimming because I’ve always trained well.”
Filipovic was challenged in state meet races by Metea Valley’s Jaeddan Gamillla, Urbana senior Andrew Lin and Barrington senior Griffin O’Leary. Their competitive race history traces back several years.
“When you’re always next to these guys, once you start beating them, you don’t want it to go back to the other times when they beat you,” Filipovic said. “Lin used to beat me in the fly all the time. O’Leary, he would beat me in the 200 free and some other events. … Once I started beating them, I [never wanted] to go back.”
Filipovic’s training regimen for high school and club consisted of an estimated 15 hours in the pool for practices. Add in time spent at meets, it makes for quite a commitment.
“Yeah, I do spend a lot of time in the pool,” Filipovic said.
Rooney said what Filipovic meant to his program goes beyond his individual achievements.
“For me, when these kids are seniors, they have the ability to really help the younger kids out,” Rooney said. “I mean, help kids out not even at their competitive level by how they embrace them, how they become friends, how they recognize kids who are not even swimmers.
“He recognizes those kids’ achievements. ... Says a lot about him as a person, says a lot about how his parents raised him. He’s just a greatly respected kid, but he’s great-natured, humble and just genuine to everyone else.”
Kane County Chronicle All-Area boys swimming team
Kyle Algrim, St. Charles East; Tyler Conner, Marmion; Alek Filipovic, St. Charles North; Kane Kriz, St. Charles North; Jackson Oostman, Marmion; Jack Redden, St. Charles East, Sean Wehner, Marmion.