While many athletes that go on to partake in high school swimming start the sport at a young age, Richfield senior Jack Bowers began swimming when he was in eighth-grade.
Bowers almost joined in seventh-grade, but, after attending an informational meeting, he was undecided on whether he should join the squad.
“I wanted to the year prior and I attended a meeting at the middle school, but I didn’t feel it was for me,” Bowers said. “The next year I wanted to do something outside of school, so that’s what I did.
“I had never done swimming before, I just did the basics. It was kind of spontaneous, but it turned out to be a five-year career so far.”
Bowers said he didn’t begin to stand out until the end of his freshman year, when he was inspired by one of his then-teammates.
“The only time I saw someone go to state meet was during my freshman year,” Bowers said. “It was always in the back of my mind that the bigger swimmers went to state their senior years and they started the same way I did, why couldn’t I get there?
“I knew that if I kept going I could get to that level.”
Bowers’ work ethic and ability has helped him become one of Richfield’s top swimmers over the last couple of years. Bowers broke a two-year state swimming hiatus for Richfield by qualifying for two events at the 2015-16 state meet last season, and two more individual events, as well as two relay events, this season.
“He has done absolutely wonderful and he has really stepped up to the plate,” fellow senior co-captain Kyle Odefey said. “His potential was really showing last year and it has shown this year.
“I’m really proud of him for that and he has done a great job all season being a captain, being a swimmer and being a leader.”
Bowers was consistently one of the better swimmers in the pool at every Richfield meet, and he credited this year’s success to his preparation during the summer.
“Over the summer I stuck with the Richfield Swim Club,” Bowers said. “It was my first experience with long course swimming, instead of the 25-yard pool it was a 50-meter pool.”
Bowers said the experience of dealing with weekend long meets with the Richfield Swim Club made it easier for him to stay focused during a two-hour high school swim meet.
Bowers, one of the two seniors on the squad, was also named a co-captain this season, which kept him focused on performing well in practices by leading by example.
“Sure, it made me perform better in the pool, but I think more of it came in terms of growing up and becoming a leader,” Bowers said. “These guys can get crazy at times, so it was about showing the guys when they need to practice and when they need to represent Richfield in the pool.”
The younger swimmers on the team appreciated Bowers’ leadership both in and out of the pool this season.
“Jack is probably one of the people on the team I trust most,” Griffyn Stainbrook said. “I spoke for him on Senior Night and he is a powerful captain.
“He is the leading force with how fast we are and what kind of people the team will turn out to be.”
Bowers also had an impact on his younger brother, James.
“It’s great to see someone you know and someone you care for in the pool right next to you,” James Bowers said. “It’s fun to race him and have the experience to be not only his brother, but his teammate.”
The younger swimmers on the team were able to see Bowers set and complete new goals this season.
“I think every year I did swimming I set new goals,” Bowers said. “It wasn’t always a time, it was swimming year-round or taking club more seriously to make my high school season better, which I did last year.
“My big goal for this season was to take down the record.”
The record he desired was the 100-yard butterfly record set by Duncan Pederson in 2012. Bowers tied the record (53.41 seconds) at the Section 2A meet, and felt he could get the record at state.
“One one-hundredth of a second? Sure,” Bowers said.
Entering the state meet, Bowers said he did not think much about anything but setting that record.
“I heard Hamren say he wants a 52, so I want to go 52,” Bowers said. “I haven’t really thought about it, because all I want is to get my name on that board.”
Bowers set it in the state preliminary race, as he swam the event in 52.93 seconds. Bowers placed eighth in the 100-butterfly at state, as well as 10th in the 200-yard freestyle.
Bowers was named All-State for his performance at the state meet.
Contact Chris Chesky at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MNSunSports or @SunSportsChris.