It goes without saying that Oliver Martin’s recent schedule has been quite hectic. Being one of the most sought after football recruits in the country tends to do that to your planner.
With football at the forefront — recruiting visits, the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and everything else in between — time was often at a premium. Martin, whose aquatic accolades are as prestigious as his football ones, wasn’t able to make every Iowa City West swimming meet. Coach Byron Butler estimated Martin swam in a “little bit more than half” of the Trojans’ dual meets.
With the football recruiting dust settled — he’s going to Michigan in case you didn’t hear — Martin’s immediate attention is back on the pool, and he’s still dominating. The West senior will close out his decorated prep swimming career Saturday at the state meet in Marshalltown, where’s he’s scheduled for the 50-yard freestyle, 100 freestyle and the final leg of the 200 and 400 freestyle relay teams.
“I saw him in an interview earlier this year say (swimming) is like riding a bike,” Butler said. “It’s muscle memory. He doesn’t forget.
“There are a couple technique things we’ve talked about the last couple weeks, but I realistically think if he had done zero swimming this year and gotten in the water at state, he’d do pretty well. He’s just strong and athletic. He’s just one of those guys.”
Martin reached All-American status in the 50 freestyle last weekend, qualifying first with a time of 20.66 (anything under 20.69 is an automatic All-American designation). He’ll be third in the 100 freestyle, while West’ 200 and 400 freestyle relay teams slot fifth and eighth respectively.
Craig Huegel (@ICWestAthletics) February 06, 2017
What if he never picked up a football? Would he be a Division I swimmer?
“I don’t think there’s any doubt of that at all,” Butler said. “Oliver was setting state records when he was 12 — and a lot of kids who are doing that end up plateauing — but you can look up and down his whole family, even with Ruby and his sister Scarlet. The work is there. The mentality is there.
“If Oliver had just been committed to swimming — that’s always tough to say because you look at swimming as being a really grueling sport, and some kids get burnt out if the coaches aren’t watching for it. But absolutely, he could swim D-I (had he not played football). I think he could still swim D-I right now.”
Martin swimming in maize and blue? The idea has at least a little traction.
“The (Michigan football coaches) are all for it because they see it as more competitive reps that I could get,” Martin said on signing day.
“If he swam at Michigan, I think Mike Bottom, the head coach over there, said that he might give Oliver a shot at the 50 free,” Butler added. “But I don’t know.”
He paused, then chuckled before quipping:
“I don’t know if Jim Harbaugh would want to give that up.”
‘I can’t say enough about him’
After being named the co-swimmer of the year in the Mississippi Valley Conference’s Mississippi Division, West senior swimmer Noah Bruns can rack up some more hardware this weekend in what was his final prep meet.
“Noah has been one of a core of awesome kids in a leadership role on our team,” Butler said. “He’s there every day, puts in the effort, brings kids up to his level on a consistent basis. I can’t say enough about him or this group of seniors.”
Bruns will swim the opening leg of the 200 freestyle and the 400 freestyle relay, but the middle two swimmers will change in front of Martin. Juniors Ben Berhow and Ethan McAreavy will go second and third on the 200, while freshman Izaak Hajek and junior Brennon Keen will do the same on the 400.
A complete list of West’s events:
200 medley relay: Hajek, Sam Deyak, Keen, Berhow (seventh)
200 IM: Hajek (19th)
50 freestyle: Martin (first), Keen (23rd)
100 butterfly: Hajek (11th)
100 freestyle: Martin (third)
500 freestyle: Lane Griffis (20th)
200 freestyle relay: Bruns, Berhow, McAreavy, Martin (fifth)
100 breast: Berhow (sixth), Deyak (16th)
400 freestyle relay: Bruns, Hajek, Keen, Martin (eighth)
‘He really welcomed the challenge’
Despite his fledgling status, City High’s Forrest Frazier is no stranger to high-profile swimming meets. The Little Hawk freshman has been one of the biggest pieces for Zane Hugo’s squad this season and will look to cap off a strong first year at this weekend’s state meet.
Frazier will be the lead man on City’s 200 medley relay team, which qualified ninth and consists of fellow freshman Louis Stephan and juniors Eric Thomas and Mickale Sadecky. Frazier will also be a top contender in the 100 backstroke and 100 breastroke — events he qualified second and fifth for respectively.
“Forrest has swum in a lot of high-level USA swimming meets, so competition is nothing new to him,” Hugo said. “He really welcomed the challenge of training week in and week out, as well as competing with the schools around the area. He welcomed that challenge, and he’s stepped up every single time that we had an opportunity to race and put forth his best effort.
“So I definitely think he’s learned a lot about himself, and he’s really fit in really well with the team.”
UI Rec Services (@recserv) December 12, 2016
A complete list of City’s events:
200 medley relay: Frazier, Stephan, Thomas, Sadecky (ninth)
200 IM: Thomas (21st)
100 backstroke: Frazier (second), Thomas (18th)
100 breast: Frazier (fifth), Stephan (12th)
Dargan Southard covers preps, recruiting, Iowa and UNI athletics for the Iowa City Press-Citizen, The Des Moines Register and HawkCentral.com. Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.