It’s impossible to ignite a fire underwater, but Metuchen High School senior Michael Sparks might be able to make it happen.
He will be the Greater Middlesex Conference boys swimmer to watch this season.
In his junior campaign Sparks lit up the GMC Tournament when he collected wins in the 100 freestyle, posting a time of 49.30 seconds, and the 100 backstroke with a time of 54.55. He also placed second at the Pirate Invitational in the 100 backstroke.
“He allocates a lot of time to swimming,” Metuchen head coach Jim Thomas said. “He’s dedicated to our team, but he has to keep working hard because there are a lot of good kids in the county. Hopefully he can do well this year again and represent our school well.”
Not only does Sparks compete for his school, but he keeps in shape during the offseason with club swimming teams. He has been training hard to keep a firm grasp on what he accomplished last year.
“The perfect way for me to end my high school swimming career is to win an event at the Pirate Invitational and to defend my two titles at GMCs,” Sparks said.
Not only is Sparks dedicated to his own success, but he revels in seeing his teammates succeed as well. Team pride is of the upmost importance to him and he helps his comrades in whatever way he can to ensure that the team reaps the benefits.
“I think the best thing is that he’ll take some younger swimmers on our team and he’ll help them gain confidence in their events,” Thomas said. “Sometimes a swimmer as good as he is overlooks that, but not him. He takes everyone into consideration and realizes that they’re all a part of being successful.”
Sparks wants to see his team push harder this season.
“My team and I can both do a lot better at our invitational meets and I think we have the potential to go fast, go extremely fast and win a lot of events and maybe win a bunch of meets and hopefully do extremely well at GMCs and the Pirate Invitational,” he said. “But everyone on our team wants to be there and pushes themselves really hard. We have a really solid swim team.”
Another team looking to do well this season is St. Joseph, which will look to win its 38thconsecutive GMC title.
In 2014 the Falcons bested East Brunswick, which came in second, 641.50 team points to 559.
“We’ve been fortunate enough to have a lot of good athletes roll through the school,” St. Joseph head coach Steve Whittington said. “We have a great group of freshmen that have come in this year and it has put new energy into our system so we hope to make it 38 this year.”
The Falcons posted an impressive 7-2 record last season with its only two losses coming against Bridgewater-Raritan in the regular season and Notre Dame in the NJSIAA Non-Public A Tournament.
“We’re looking make some noise at the state level this season,” Whittington said. “Last season we weren’t a powerhouse in the state so we’re looking to return to form.”
Staff Writer Alyssa Davis: firstname.lastname@example.org