LIVE OAK — Will Carpenter’s success in the pool comes by the book.
On top of his dedication and hard work, Carpenter said the turning point in his swimming career at Suwannee came last year when he read a book on swimming. The speed soon followed.
“That did help,” he said. “I read a book on the exact correct way to swim and I feel like that played a key.
“I figured it out last year at the end of the season and this year, I just put that into play.”
He put it into play so well that he’s been named the Lake City Reporter’s Boys Swimmer of the Year.
That honor came after Carpenter qualified for the regionals in both the 100 and 200-meter freestyle as the leader of the Bulldogs’ swim program. Actually, he did more than qualify for regionals, he saved his best for last. At the Region 1-2A meet, Carpenter set a new SHS school record in the 200 free with a time of 1:57.42.
“He’s always kept going and going and going,” SHS coach Doug Morgan said of Carpenter’s success, crediting it to dedication and hard work.
“I mean the kid never quits, he’s always go, go, go. Hard work in practice, never takes a day off.”
Rather, Carpenter used that pool time in practice to get better.
“I just swam hard,” he said. “That was the only key to it, practice like you play.”
Playing hard, and practicing hard too, was necessary because Carpenter was determined to get better.
Joining the Suwannee swim team when he moved to the county as a freshman after previously attending Madison County schools — where there wasn’t a swim program — Carpenter had plenty of room to grow.
But while he had success in the 500 meters and other longer distance events, including a school record in the 500, Carpenter wasn’t satisfied.
In fact, he was done with those distance swims.
“I was like, ‘I’m tired of swimming that far,’” he said. “I had my mind set on swimming fast so I didn’t have to swim that ever again.”
That change in mindset was noticeable. Morgan said he could tell Carpenter’s interest in swimming increased as a sophomore before he really dedicated himself as a junior.
“I mean it was just his determination and his motivation, it totally changed,” Morgan said. “I was like, ‘OK, let’s see how far he wants to go.’”
Pretty far as he found his home in the pool.
“This is my sport,” he said, adding that he has garnered some interest from colleges about him continuing his career, including Penn State Altoona, a Division 3 school in Pennsylvania. “I don’t like running, but swimming, I’ll do that all day.
“I used to play football, basketball, baseball. I played those all the time. But when I moved here, I kinda fell in love with this one and it’s all I really wanted to do.”
The LCR’s Boys Swimmer of the Year qualified for regionals individually in two events, placing fifth (1:59.56) in the 200 freestyle in District 2-2A before finishing 11th (1:57.42) in Region 1-2A and taking sixth (53.49) in the 100 freestyle at districts before placing 15th (54.22) at regionals. Carpenter also swam on Suwannee’s 200 freestyle relay team that placed third (1:44.96) at districts and ninth (1:41.65) at regionals, while also swimming on the 200m medley relay team that placed fifth (2:03.30) at districts.
Qualified for regionals in two events, placing third (1:01.52) in the 100 backstroke in District 2-2A before finishing ninth (59.91) in Region 1-2A and placing fourth (23.95) in the 50 freestyle at districts. Slaughter also swam on Suwannee’s 200 freestyle relay team that placed third (1:44.96) at districts and ninth (1:41.65) at regionals, while also swimming on the 200m medley relay team that placed fifth (2:03.30) at districts.
Swam on Suwannee’s 200 freestyle relay team that placed third (1:44.96) in District 2-2A and ninth (1:41.65) in Region 1-2A, while also swimming on the 200 medley relay team that placed fifth (2:03.30) at districts. Swartz also swam individually in the 200 IM at districts, placing fifth (2:47.60).
Swam on Suwannee’s 200 freestyle relay team that placed third (1:44.96) in District 2-2A and ninth (1:41.65) in Region 1-2A, while also swimming on the 200 medley relay team that placed fifth (2:03.30) at districts. Dobeck also swam individually in the 100 butterfly and 50 freestyle at districts, placing sixth (1:10.39) and ninth (26.11) respectively.
Placed sixth (24.56) in the 50 freestyle in District 2-3A to qualify for the Region 1-2A Meet, where he placed ninth (23.76). Drew also placed eighth (56.28) in the 100 freestyle at districts and swam on the 200 freestyle and 200 medley relay teams at districts, placing eighth in both with times of 2:00.62 and 2:24.75.
COACH OF THE YEAR
Morgan guided the boys and girls to regionals in several events. William Carpenter and Peyton Slaughter both qualified for individually in two events as well as the 200 freestyle relay, while Hayden Swartz made it individually in one event and the 200 freestyle relay along with Dawson Dobeck. Morgan also guided Reina Harry and Lydia Warren to regionals in two events each for the girls. In addition, combining the boys and girls scores together in their three meetings this season, Suwannee edged Columbia twice to win the rivalry for the year.