One Minute and Forty-Three Seconds to Victory

Max Ayers, sophomore and the new titleholder of the 200 freestyle record, was able to talk to me about all things swim this past Tuesday. 

The Apex Swim Team, coached by Kevin Maksinchuk, has been around since Apex High started. From late November to mid-February high school swim holds meets in indoor facilities, counting the off time for spring teams. 

With COVID-19 affecting every sport, art, and program, swim is no exception. The feeling of the meets has changed greatly, Max notes. Crowds are no longer permitted in the indoor facilities, and masks are worn any time out of the pool. These safety precautions, though inconvenient, are necessary to ensure the protection of every athlete, parent, and coach. 

Even on an international level, COVID has caused sports to come to a grinding halt. The summer Olympics are scheduled for this July to make up for last year’s postponing. Tokyo, home of the 2020 Olympics, had set facilities that have remained dormant for over a year. It’s rumored that they are to be canceled if postponed again. 

On a smaller scale, swim was able to persist, thankfully so for multiple swimmers that attend Apex High, including Max. He completed the 200 freestyle in one minute and forty-three seconds at the Swim Conference Meet on January 30 at Triangle Aquatic Center. The 200 free, 8 laps of freestyle totaling 200 meters, is usually Max’s best and favorite event. When compared to butterfly, freestyle is easier, but the long eight laps is where the challenge lays.  The freestyle stroke is generally the swimmer’s choice movement but often ends up mirroring the movement of a crawl at rapid speed, making it the fastest stroke. It’s often favored by long-distance swimmers and is characterized by one arm in front, one arm in back, with legs kicking throughout.

Max, a swimmer since age eight, is optimistic about anyone’s swimming ability. “If you train hard enough you can do it,” he says. But training is not an easy feat. A typical swim practice includes dynamic stretching, a 30-minute warmup, and the main set focus for that day. Generally, practice ends with something off the blocks for time. The blocks are elevated structures used for jumping into the pool. Daily practice comes to two and a half hours. By Saturday, training lands at about fifteen hours for the week. “It’s a big commitment,” he says, but it’s served him well as he will be attending a national meet in the coming months. When asked about preparation for meets, it’s clear relaxed and ready is the way to go. “I think a lot about what my strategy is going to be before, but other than that I just go for it.” 

Though close to eight years a swimmer, nerves do not escape Max. Maybe not for his best event, but “there are lots of races where I still get nervous.” The record was a shock as it was announced after the event had ended, so any adrenaline left from the race had surely worn off. 

Even through the pandemic, there are still standout achievements that are proof motivation can get you anywhere. Safe to say, the harder you jump, the larger your splash.

Max would like to thank his coaches for helping him, as well as his teammates for pushing him. Congratulations on your achievement, Max!

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