He is known only as “T” to many friends, who couldn’t even guess what the letter stands for. He’s named after his father, so the single-letter nickname was used to avoid family confusion, but everyone knows Jeffersonville’s Tim Martin when he stands on the block and dives into the swimming pool to race. Martin, the sectional favorite in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle, will graduate as the most decorated swimmer in Jeff history with 16 Hoosier Hills Conference titles, and he’s chasing another top-five finish — and possibly a championship — in the state meet. He has signed with Indiana University.
After an outstanding four-year career, you have only two high school meets — provided you qualify for the state — remaining. Has that hit you yet?
Like any point in time, you have to move on. I’ve been swimming under Coach (Keith) Gast a lot longer than just my high school career. I’ve been training with him since I was 12, so it will be difficult switching to the staff at IU. But I think I’m prepared for it. I’m trying my best to get as high in the state as I can.
What made you choose Indiana?
I went on four official visits, and IU just felt right. It came down to Louisville and IU, and I felt more comfortable with the IU swim team. I’ve swam with several of them my entire career.
What is the key to performing at a high level?
The coach takes care of the physical aspect. I’ll be prepared physically, so it’s all about the mental attitude you have before you get up on the blocks. There are people who get up and get psyched out, like I did my freshman year, and not go as fast as you potentially can. You have to be sound in mind to do your very best.
Will your experience be a key in the sectional and state meet?
The atmosphere at the sectional is very similar to the state meet, it’s just on a smaller scale. So that really helps, and it makes you more comfortable when you get to the state before a couple of thousand people.
What got you started in the sport?
I played every sport — basketball, baseball, soccer and swimming — but didn’t really start training until I was 12. Coach picked me out and started me with the older kids. That year I dropped a lot of time and showed potential, so I decided to stick with that.
What do you enjoy most about swimming?
I love it when I know I’ve swam my absolute best. It’s hard to describe when you’re going very fast. You knew it’s something very few people can do. There are several thousand basketball players, several thousand football players, but only a couple of hundred swimmers in the world can go the speed it takes in the state championships. It’s a very unique experience to be able to glide through the water.
What pointed you toward pursing a law degree?
I like the history aspect along with actual problem solving. I had considered being an engineer, but that didn’t work out as well as I wanted. I would still like to actually do that, but I think I fit better into the law.
What do you enjoy away from the pool?
For me, there’s not much else besides swimming. You have practice in the morning, school all day, practice after school and weightlifting at some time. Then it’s homework and hanging out with the family and my girlfriend.
Will winning a state championship be the ultimate, or is there more than that?
My thing is all about the time. I can swim lights out for a lifetime best, and get second or third, and be perfectly fine. If I got first place and didn’t swim well in doing it, I wouldn’t be as satisfied.
TIM MARTIN UP CLOSE
* Jeffersonville * Senior * parents Tim and Jennifer; sisters Julia (22), Hanna (20), Yanna (17), Elona (15); brother James (17) * Tim is a member of the National Honor Society. He has signed to swim at Indiana University and plans to pursue a law degree. * “He has been the heart and soul of our competitive scoring for the last two years. He will be missed as a competitor and team leader. He is definitely one of the hardest workers I have ever had the pleasure of coaching, and he is a great role model to the younger swimmers on the team. He is very focused on trying to win a state title. We hope this is his year.”School: Year:Family: Student/athlete: Coach Keith Gast:
— Justin Sokeland