AKRON – One may look no further than Akron to find a more motivated and anticipating athlete than Chase Brower.
The confident senior at Tippecanoe Valley got a taste of the juicy fruit last season, and is ready to make his final go-round with the Viking swim program one to remember.
“My goal is to break all of them, sweep as many as I can,” Brower said of the Tippecanoe Valley record board. “The 50 and 100 freestyles are must go’s for me, and I am working on my endurance to swim the 200 and 500, I want them, too. I think I can push them in the 100 back and 100 breast, we’ll see.”
While it might seem like Brower is a little outside the realm of possibility, he’s not quite as over his head as it might seem. Brower won the sectional last year in the 50, was third in the 100, and is built in much of the prototypical pedigree of a swimmer. Tall, paddles for feet, a good cage, long, purposeful strokes in the water. If anything, you have to admire his ambition.
What Brower said was his chief motivating goal was his first crack at the IHSAA State Finals. Brower came in ranked dead last in the 50 with his 22.42 seed time, and wound up there in 34th overall after prelims in what was a white-hotly contested event. Jack Franzman of Zionsville broke the state record by cracking 20 seconds at 19.85 in what Brower referred to as “the most hype meet I’ve ever seen.” What should be noted of the event is 11 of the 16 who swam the 50 on Saturday of the finals did not graduate, and they all broke 22.
“I’m definitely capable of getting 20 seconds. I’m very confident in that,” Brower said. “It comes down to technique, and my nerves at state got the best of me. I was so nervous going into it and never shook them. I know that I’m capable of 20.”
Brower knows his times will be challenged, notably by Warsaw’s Alex Cook – whom he edged in the 50 finals of the sectional – and Matt Webber of Columbia City in the 100, who beat him by almost two full seconds. Cook also beat Brower in the 100, and the two have sparred in club swims already this year.
Brower was able to do what no swimmer at Valley in nearly 20 years did by making the IHSAA State Finals, ending a 19-year drought. Head coach Matt Craig, who is part of the record wall and has experience in the state tournament series, knows the immense potential Brower has, even if he decides to take on eight individual events in his crusades along the Viking ship.
“I know he is still focused on those two races, but he also knows that I’m putting him in a bigger variety of races this year,” Craig said. “Of course he’ll be in the 50 and 100 when it comes to the larger meets and more competition. When it comes to practice I believe he has to do what anyone else does and that’s just simply wanting to push himself to be better. As far as meets go, they’re such short races that there is no way he can hold back, even if he is faster than the other team.”
Tippecanoe Valley opens it competition season at NorthWood on Nov. 27.
“I want to show everyone what I’ve got. I want to get back to the state finals. My trip last year opened my eyes to what the rest of the state is doing, and how they set the standards. Some of the times they were posting were crazy, 18-second splits in a 50. It’s crazy to know that someone my age can swim that.”