Senior Dalton Lawver just finished a perfect weekend. He was in four events, the 400-yard freestyle relay, 100-yard backstroke, 100-yard butterfly, and 200-yard medley relay. But that was not even his biggest accomplishment this weekend. Lawver broke the school’s 100 backstroke record with a time of 49.02 seconds.
“I really only had one goal this season,” said Lawver. “That was to break the 100 backstroke record, so now that I did that I can just relax and go hard at state.”
Breaking records is something that typically takes years to work up to; however, that was not the case for Lawver.
“When I really focused and started was my freshman year, before that I did not really do any swimming,” said Lawver.
Even though he has not been swimming for long, that does not mean he does not work hard.
“My four years of training came down to that moment,” said Lawver. “It was always my goal but the early mornings in the weight room with [strength and conditioning coach Donnie] Gumble or early morning swim practice or the long hours after school, just working hard with my teammates led to breaking the record.”
However, some of the hard work needed came from work in the water, according to Lawver.
He said, “I needed to tighten up my underwaters this year to break the record. You want your underwaters bigger when you dive in and as you start coming towards the surface you make them faster.”
However, just the hard work was not what allowed him to break the record. To be record holders, any athlete must be extremely competitive, and Lawver is no exception.
“My favorite part of swimming is competing during practice. You are there with your friends and you just start racing and it’s just an absolute blast,” said Lawver.
Lawver is also potentially doing something that has not been done by a Highlander swimmer since Meg Taylor in 2015, getting on the all-state wall. He comes into state seeded second in the 100 backstroke. The top eight are all-state and, of course, Lawver wants to do that. But being seeded that highly adds some pressure, and Lawver is feeling it a little bit.
“It makes me very nervous, because there is going to be a lot of competition up there. The Indianapolis kids are very well trained and very hard workers and they are going to go out there trying to break state records, but I am excited to see what happens,” said Lawver. “But hopefully I will be on the podium at the end of the day.”
There are not many sports where an athlete can go to state as a sophomore and not be noticed. Add to that the fact that she has two family members on the All-State Wall and it seems that somebody should pickup on the fact that she could likely follow her family’s footsteps and be the third member of her family on the on the Wall. However, sophomore Kylie McDonald seems to have slipped through the cracks.
McDonald has been swimming since she was in first grade. After all that time, she has settled into swimming the 100-yard breaststroke, 200-yard individual medley, as well as relays. On Saturday at state at the IU Natatorium in Indianapolis, she will be swimming the 100 breaststroke and 400-yard freestyle relay.
That was one of her main goals this year, to swim in state, but her swimming goals are bigger than that.
“This year I wanted to just get to state in the 100 breaststroke. But my future goals are to make the finals at state, break FC’s 100 breastroke record, and swim in college,” said McDonald.
McDonald works hard, but swimming is also something that is in her blood. As I mentioned earlier, her uncle, Brent McDonald, was all-state in 1996, winning the 100 butterfly and was the runner up in the 50 freestyle.
“Do I feel pressure? Yes and no. Coming from a family of swimmers does mean there is a little pressure to do well,” said McDonald. “But it also comes with a family that believes in you and gives you the best advice and race strategies.”
Her family’s knowledge of swimming means that they can help her succeed in the mental aspect of the sport.
“My parents and coaches being encouraging is part of what has led to my success,” said McDonald. “I was told to always have fun and never doubt that I can win.”
Part of having that swimmer blood in her means she is a natural competitor; in fact, it is one of her favorite parts of swimming.
McDonald said, “Racing is my favorite part of swimming. I love being able to compete and race against the fastest girls in Indiana.”
Dalton Lawver looks down in thought while he folds his socks before practice. Photo by Grace Allen.
Dalton Lawver intently reads the heat sheets posted in the pool area so he knows what he’s signed up to swim in the next meet. Photo by Grace Allen.
Dalton Lawver chats while he carries an equipment bag and goggles to his assigned lane. “My favorite part of being on the team is definitely the people on the swim team just because of how much fun they are outside of swim too,” said Lawver. Photo by Grace Allen.
As his wingspan reaches almost the entire lane width, Dalton Lawver pushes the water with his body as he swims butterfly. Photo by Grace Allen.
Dalton Lawver looks up at the wall and flicks his wrists back as he powers through the water on butterfly. Photo by Grace Allen.
With a simple glide through the water, Dalton Lawver bends his elbow and grabs more water on freestyle. “My favorite event is either the 100 [- meter] backstroke or the 50 [- meter] free,” said Lawver. Photo by Grace Allen.
Dalton Lawver focuses his eyes on the block as he readies himself in a backstroke start position. “I am trying to break the 100 [- meter] backstroke record this year so I needed to keep swimming,” said Lawver when asked why he decided to swim again this year. Photo by Grace Allen.
Christmas break has the best sports action of any break, from high school all the way up to the pros. I was also able to get to a wrestling meet, a swim meet, two boys’ basketball games, and two girls’ basketball games. So I’ll give my take from each sport as well as some college and pro sports.
Swim– Our boys’ and girls swim teams are the best in our area, no question. But things
get much tougher as we get into the Indianapolis area. Both teams dominated Jeff, the second best team in the area the Thursday before break. Then, two days later, we
performed pretty well again but not better than Brownsburg, an Indianapolis school. However, we should dominate sectionals again before scoring a few points and hopefully getting a couple of athletes on the all-state wall.
Wrestling-I am going to start this off by saying I do not know much about wrestling.
However, I went to the New Albany meet because it was Senior Night and to support my football teammate senior Sean Burk. We were much better than New Albany. They did not even have a wrestler for several weight classes, one of which was Burk’s. I could tell that we had some extremely talented wrestlers in senior Jonathan Kervin, junior Gavinn Alstott, and sophomore J Conway. They all three have a chance to win state and should definitely be all-state; that will be back-to-back all-state seasons for Alstott and Kervin. It is also worth noting that Alstott’s win against New Albany was his 100th as a Highlander.
Boys’ basketball– The boys’ are better than people were expecting. In fact, they have
been one of the most underrated teams in the state. They are not as good as Silver Creek, and have a tough matchup against the Dragons in February, but they proved in the game against Bloomington South on Dec. 21 that they can play with some of the best teams in the state. Most people were expecting a 20-point victory for Bloomington South, but after four quarters, the score was tied. Bloomington South eventually won on a buzzer beater. The officials cannot be blamed for the outcome of a game but I really think it is worth mentioning that the officiating was terrible. That game proved that we can play with the best teams. If junior Jake Heidbreder gets rolling, the seniors lead the team through four quarters, and the underclassmen can step-up, we are very dangerous.
Girls’ basketball– I have a very unusual view on the girls’ basketball team because I
practice with them several times a week. They are very young and expectations were not very high for them. But, throughout break, they have improved greatly. They have played pretty well at times. But their main problem is that they do not hit shots for about five minutes and dig themselves a hole. If they could be a little more consistent, they could very easily be .500 on the year. The next three years should be good, though, behind junior Grace Suer, who is injured this season and a major loss, sophomore Keegan Kaiser and freshman Mandy Hess.
Now to pro and college sports. I said the Titans would win in the week leading up to the Patriots Titans game. Then it happened. I think it ended the Patriots dynasty because for the first time in 10 years they will not be in the AFC Championship game, and, unless the Patriots get Rob Gronkowski to unretire or add some significant talent, they will not be back next year. They might not even win their division because the Bills look like a very talented and young team. On another note, the Titans will beat the Ravens this week.
I also decided over Break that Bowl season in the best season. On New Year’s Day, I watched close football games for almost 12 straight hours. If that is not the best day possible, I do not know what is. Anyway, LSU is ridiculous. They thumped Oklahoma in the playoff which I expected. Their QB, Joe Burrow, went off, setting several College Football Playoff records. The second game was closer. Clemson won on a TD late in the fourth quarter and then a pick to seal it with under a minute left in Ohio State’s endzone. The championship is Monday and even though I am rooting for Clemson, I am taking LSU in a closed game.
My other take from college football is that the SEC is the best conference. The SEC was 7-2 in bowl games and 7 SEC teams on LSU’s schedule played LSU closer than the best team in the Big 12, Oklahoma. It would not be a tough to argue looking back that Florida, Georgia, and maybe even Alabama should have been in over Oklahoma. I would go as far to say that a two loss SEC team should be in over a 1 loss team from any of the other Power 5 conferences.
My biggest take from break is that officiating is becoming a huge issue. Several of the meaningful close games over break had a significant seemingly bad call as a talking point following it. Again, the Saints got the short end of the stick with playoff officiating, which should be talked for a while this off season. The biggest game that officiating was talked about was the Ohio State-Clemson game. I believe both questionable calls were correct, but in a game that close any calls that could be debated will be viewed as wrong by the losing team’s fans. I also say that you cannot blame a loss on the officials, which is true for the Ohio State game as well.
My final take is on the NFL overtime rule. It is ridiculous. No other sport do you see a team score and their opponent not get a chance to match, except for some reason, the NFL. Both teams should get the ball at least once. The Saints lost in overtime because the Vikings won the coin toss and scored to start the extra period. I do not get why the NFL would want it’s most popular and best players to never see the field and lose. I have been saying this since Super Bowl LI in 2017, where the Patriots Tom Brady scored to start overtime without the Falcons Matt Ryan ever seeing the field in overtime.
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