Michael Creaser remembers being huddled around the television as a kid watching the Olympic Games.
From track and field to gymnastics, the Lansing native, along with his mother and sister, were enthralled by the athletes on their screen. But it was the swimming events that resonated most with Creaser.
“I always loved swimming,” the Eastern High School grad said. “My mom got us an in-ground pool when I was about 7. I spent a lot of time in the summer in the pool.
“My mom said something about my sister joining the junior high team and I decided I wanted to do that, too. I think it was already in my blood.”
Creaser grew to become one of the most decorated swimmers in Lansing history. He captured two individual state championships as a member of the Quakers’ team in the 1980s and went on to be a three-time All-American at the University of Michigan. Creaser was also a participant in the 1988 U.S. Olympic Trials.
He’ll be one of 11 individuals and two teams inducted into the Greater Lansing Area Sports Hall of Fame on July 28.
“When I was in junior high, I noticed some of the high schoolers … going on to do things,” said Creaser, who graduated from Eastern in 1984 and was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame three years ago. “I remember when I was 12 I met (Olympian) Mark Spitz. That just added to the desire to swim fast. I thought, ‘I might be able to do this.'”
After winning two Class A state titles in the 100-meter backstroke and 200-meter freestyle while in high school, Creaser helped the Wolverines capture three Big Ten titles from 1984-88. In his junior year, he won individual conference championships in the 100 and 200 backstroke events.
“I grew up with U of M on my mind. My mom and dad both went there,” Creaser said. “I thought I would be getting there a little quicker than my junior year. It was a culmination of a lot of hard work and effort. It was something I always wanted to do.”
In the summer of 1988, with just a few college courses remaining, Creaser trained in Ann Arbor for the U.S. Olympic Trials in Austin, Texas. Like most swimmers, his goal was to one day qualify for the Olympic team. And while he fell short, Creaser placed 11th in the 100 backstroke and 17th in the 200-meter backstroke.
He said his performance in the 100 backstroke was a U of M record that held for nearly three years.
“In any other meet, that’d be All-American or honorable mention or something like that,” Creaser added. “Looking back, I had my best times by far, but I might have overtrained a little bit.”
Contact James L. Edwards III at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JLEdwardsIII.
Greater Lansing Area Sports Hall of Fame
What: 41st Greater Lansing Area Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony
When/Where: July 28 at the Lansing Center; dinner is scheduled for 5:45 p.m., followed by the ceremony at 6:45.
Admission: $35 (Reserved seating only, no ticket sales at door). Go to lansingsportshalloffame.org or call Bob Every at 484-0677.
Sponsors: Magic Johnson Enterprises, Dean Transportation, Auto Owner Insurance , Applegate Home Comfort, Dan Henry Distributing and Two Men And A Truck.
Race fundraiser: The Run for Fame 5K/10K Run/Walk will be July 31 in Lansing. Entry details at playmakers.com.