Lapping up success

For The Tribune

Caleb O’Brien knows that when he arrives at a swimming pool for a meet, he is going to have a busy time in the water, as he is likely going to swim two individual events and a pair of relays.

In most of the meets this season, he has swam the 100 back and 500 free, and in the 200 medley and 200 free relays.

The 200 free relay, 500 free and backstroke are close together during the second half of meets, and O’Brien said he doesn’t have as much rest time between events as he would like.

O’Brien said he likes swimming the backstroke in the medley relay.

“That’s a good way to start the meet,” he said. “It sets a good tone for the rest of the races.”

In individual events, O’Brien has had the most success in the 100 back as he placed eighth in the Floyd Central Sectional last season.

He said he feels like most people think swimming on your back is different than swimming face down.

“I just find it more competitive because you’re not necessarily … looking at the audience or anything else,” O’Brien said. “It has more to do with what you are focusing on because you are not slowing down to breathe, and it’s just straight swimming.”

O’Brien’s best time in the back has been 1:03.2, and he admits, “I probably could have done better. It was (senior night). I just wasn’t feeling well that night.”

O’Brien said his goal at sectional is to break one minute.

“Where I’m at now I should be able to pull it off because of my practice times,” he said. “I haven’t had a meet in a while that I felt good at. One meet I had stomach problems, and I was doing well until that started happening.”

In the 500, O’Brien said he has had to learn how to pace himself in order to finish strong, and admits he would not do well in sprint freestyles.

“There was one practice that it showed that really well,” O’Brien said. “It started out 50 free, and then you added 50 to each swim. I was doing well on the 50, but then at the 100 I couldn’t keep up with anybody. Then at the 400 I started leading the group because that’s where I practice at.”

He said his strategy in the 500 depends on who he is swimming against.

“There are some groups where I will go hard at the beginning, and I’ll stay at that pace the whole time, and then there are other times where I’ll ‘sandbag’ it and at the very end go all out because you know they’re tired,” he said.

“I have to learn how to pace myself, especially going back-to-back-to-back. I don’t get a lot of time to rest and recover with what I’m using, so I have to kind of pace myself a little bit more than I would normally.”

The senior began swimming in fifth grade, joining after passing on a number of other sports.

O’Brien said it takes dedication to practice before school three times a week.

“It definitely takes a lot of dedication, especially over the summer, which I did for a while, but I couldn’t do with work and everything where you have to be up at 6 a.m. for practice over the summer,” he said. “Now I really enjoy weights a lot, especially compared to swimming.”

Over the years, O’Brien has always appreciated the crowds that travel with the team.

“No matter where we go, Seymour always has good support,” O’Brien said. “Most of the other schools don’t have all their parents come to the meets. The best thing I like about the home meets is the layout of the pool where your team is near your lanes, and you can be motivated by your teammates.”

At a glance

Name: Caleb O’Brien

Parents: Greg and Chris O’Brien

Sibling: Allison

Sports: swimming 4 years

Athletic highlight: placing 8th in 100 back at 2015 sectional

Organizations: National Honor Society, Latin Club officer

Plans after high school: attend DePauw University

Favorite food: Sonic burgers

Favorite TV show: “Spongebob”

Favorite musicians: Zac Brown Band

Favorite movie: “Star Wars”


Q: Do you have a favorite away pool?

A: “I like Floyd Central. A lot of people hate that pool, but I like that pool more than I like our pool just because I feel that is the most important pool that we swim at. We were there three times last year.”

Q: What was it like being named a captain?

A: “I was happy being named captain. I lead stretches because I know them all by heart. I try to get everyone quiet. I lead especially outside of the pool. Noah (Bullard) is really good at giving inspirational speeches and stuff before the meet, I want us to be a team so we hang out and bond, and I plan all the bonding that we do as a team.”

Q: Have you enjoyed your time at SHS?

A: “I just enjoy the whole atmosphere. I’m kind of glad I’m going to a smaller school (DePauw) after here. I like the class size here. As a senior I enjoy my classes of 28-30 kids. That was the big thing when I was picking out colleges.

Arv Koontz is a sports correspondent for The (Seymour) Tribune.