GREENFIELD — Lying on the white sheets of his hospital bed, far away from the sound and comfort of water, Greenfield-Central’s Jordan Cermak was clearly out of his element. After a rush visit to the emergency room, Cermak, and his swim career, were put on sudden standby.
Just one day before, on Thursday, the Cougars senior felt a sharp pain centered around the core of his body. This feeling wasn’t nerves or the sense of butterflies dancing in his stomach. This pain was purely physical.
However, one visit to the hospital revealed absolutely nothing.
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The pain came back, though.
“I couldn’t really walk around without being in pain,” Cermak said, who missed school and practice the next day, Friday Nov. 6.
Upon returning to the hospital, tests revealed Cermak had an infection.
After years of dedication, Cermak’s last ride — the final season of his high school career — almost never began. Three days before the start of the 2015-16 season, doctors learned Cermak’s appendix was severely swelling, and as time ticked, so did the chance of it rupturing.
Surgery was needed, but it was simple and easy, Cermak insisted. But two weeks out of the pool? Not so much. Two weeks out of the pool felt like an eternity.
Now, however, with just two months of full health under his belt, after winning four blue ribbons at the New Palestine Sectional last weekend, Cermak is headed back to the state finals. Going with him are seven Greenfield-Central teammates, including all three relay teams.
Cermak is scheduled to swim in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle races as well as the 200 medley relay and 400 freestyle relay. His time of 21.91 in the 50 is just behind the state cut of 21.63 as only four swimmers in the field having times below 21.0.
Last season, he finished 31st overall at state in the 50 free while the team finished 23rd in the 200 medley relay.
Teammate Zack Cook, a sophomore, and Allen Forbes, a junior, will also swim in four events Friday at the IU Natatorium on the campus of IUPUI. Cook took first in the 100 backstroke and 100 butterfly at the sectional and will also swim on the 200 medley and 400 freestyle relay teams.
That trio helped Greenfield-Central earn its sixth straight sectional title, scoring the most points in school history at New Palestine on Saturday.
“Having a great sectional behind us really boosts our motivation and confidence going into state,” Cook said.
Forbes made the state cut in the 100 backstroke and will swim in all three relay events. Ethan Kile won the 100 breaststroke at the sectional and will swim in the 200 medley and 200 freestyle relays, as well.
Sophomore Chris Joven was a part of the winning 200 and 400 freestyle relay teams while Austin Payne also competed on the 200 freestyle relay team.
The Cougars, who are aiming for a top-10 finish according to head coach Mark Logan, enter the state meet seeded fourth in their heats in the 200 medley and 400 freestyle relays.
After divers Jacob Keener and Ben Rader advanced past the Brownsburg Regional Tuesday night, Greenfield-Central will have eight ready bodies looking to score valuable points this weekend.
For Cermak, though, breaking the school mark in the 50 freestyle sits at the top of his to-do list in the final meet of his career. And after the season he’s endured and conquered, no task seems out of question.
2016 IHSAA State Swimming and Diving Finals
When: Friday, Feb. 26 at 6 p.m. for swimming preliminary rounds. Saturday, Feb. 27 at 9 a.m. for dive preliminaries and semifinal rounds. The consolation and final rounds of both events will begin at 1 p.m.
Where: Indiana University Natatorium, IUPUI, 901 W. New York St., Indianapolis.
Advancement: The top 16 swimmers from the prelims Friday will move on to competition on Saturday, with the top eight finishers earning state honors. After two rounds of cuts, 16 of 32 divers will compete in the finals.