OKEMOS – Ewan Woolcock’s seven-year relationship with swimming has been one of love and hate.
In fifth grade, when his mother suggested he tried out for the Spartan Swim Club, Woolcock loved being in the pool. After the first year, he didn’t want anything to do with it.
“My mom had to drag me to practice screaming and crying almost every day,” Woolcock recalls.
He ended up quitting around seventh grade, and when he tried to return as an eighth-grader, he broke his arm and was only able to swim for half the season.
Woolcock gave the sport one more chance when he stepped onto the campus of Okemos High School as a freshman two years ago. For some reason, he began to love the water like he hadn’t before. He saw himself make continuous progress. And, this season, after a strong sophomore year, the junior has been a key piece for the CAAC Blue-leading Chiefs as they try to capture their ninth straight league title and top last year’s 20th-place finish at the Division 2 state meet.
“I started to experience success, and that kind of drove me, I guess,” Woolcock said. “The work I put in this year has been much more substantial. My teammates have been helping me and driving me every day in practice.”
Woolcock currently has the Lansing area’s best time in the 200-yard freestyle (1:49.54) and 50-yard freestyle (22.51). He’s second in the 100-yard freestyle (48.79).
He is a part of Okemos’ area-leading 200-yard medley relay team (1:42.80), 200-yard freestyle relay team (1:31.43) and 400-yard freestyle relay team (3:22.17).
Chiefs coach Patrick Saucedo has known Woolcock since the junior was rebelling against the sport as a youngster. And, while Woolcock may not have not enjoyed his early experiences, Saucedo believes that time played a big role in his development today.
“It’s not always about — it’s cliché, but — getting the fastest kids on the team,” Saucedo said, “but, they have a better chance of being that successful when they do start younger. And while he might not have liked it when he was younger, the fact that he started when he was younger is definitely helping him right now.”
Physically, Woolcock has an advantage He’s been over six feet tall since his freshman year.
“That’s (height) an advantage that you can’t teach,” said Saucedo, who also cites Woolcock’s versatility in different events as among his strong suits. “There’s definitely potential. Any sport will tell you that, too. When you have someone who is genetically gifted, you’re going to see the potential that you can get out of them.
“As a freshman, he made great strides in a short amount of time. Last year, he made some state cuts. This year, he’s already got his cuts out of the way.”
Woolcock is looking to place at states this season. Before he does that, he has his sights set on breaking the 200 freestyle pool record held by Adam Marsh (2012), who won two individual state titles during his time at Okemos.
Woolcock wants to go on to swim in college, and he wants to help the Chiefs make noise at the state meet.
“I think our goal this year is for a top-8 finish at states,” he said. “I think’s it’s doable.”
Contact James L. Edwards III at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JLEdwardsIII.