GREENFIELD — Although faced with familiar surroundings, Greenfield-Central junior Zach Cook found himself in uncharted waters.
Swimming in a pool he’s raced in several times, Cook hardly recognized a soul.
Earning a spot in the Arena Pro Championship last weekend at the Indiana University Natatorium in Indianapolis, the Cougars standout competed against a handful of the top swimmers in the nation — and around the world.
Story continues below gallery
And he held his own.
Making the cut in two events after a tough start, Cook will swim in both the 100- and 200-meter butterfly at Junior Nationals in July. He also swam in the 100- and 200-meter backstroke last weekend.
“It was so different than a high school meet,” Cook said. “There were swimmers from other countries and Olympians, and everything just seemed very high level.”
Simply put: Success is becoming inevitable for Cook, who finished fifth in the 100-yard butterfly and the 100-yard backstroke events at the IHSAA Boys Swimming and Diviing State Finals last winter — also at the natatorium on the IUPUI campus — as a sophomore for the Cougars’ swim team.
“Zach’s enthusiasm not just for the sport of swimming, but the process of becoming a little better every day in practice, is a key characteristic in his success,” Greenfield-Central boys swim coach Mark Logan said. “He enjoys every practice, he enjoys his teammates and maybe even his coaches.”
However, Cook, who has been swimming since age 10, wasn’t the only Cougar who had a successful meet on the campus of IUPUI this past weekend.
Co-hosted by the Greenfield-Central swim club (GCAT), Logan and other organizers received major compliments from some of the biggest swim names around the country.
“It is a memorable moment when National Team coach, 2008 Olympic and six-time NCAA National Champion coach Jack Bauerle of the Georgia Bulldogs comes up behind you on the last evening of the meet,” Logan said. “…and pats you on the back and says we did a great job.”
Back in the water, though, Cook was one of approximately 20 swimmers near his age at the meet, he said, which added to his already stomach-turning nerves. And although he was the lone swimmer from Greenfield-Central, Cook found comfort in familiar faces outside the pool.
“(It) was the best part of it all,” he said. “It really gave me the confidence and excitement to bring forth my best effort and race.”
And according to Logan, not only did Cook impress fellow competitors, teammates and coaches, he gained interest from a Division I program
“It was an all-around incredible experience for everyone involved,” Logan said.
Cook, who spends up to 1,000 hours each year training, also has been selected participate in Indiana Swimming’s Elite Camp at SwimMac in North Carolina this summer, according to Logan. He will have the opportunity to work with this year’s Olympic Coach, David Marsh, along with numerous Olympic swimmers.
“Zach hopes to work on some very detailed parts of his stroke, work out some kinks and just generally gain a greater awareness of his body in the water,” Logan said.
So far he’s doing just fine.
Cook also swam on the Cougars’ 200-yard medley and 400-yard freestyle relay teams at the state meet this past winter and won four sectional titles — all of which helped Greenfield-Central win a team championship.
GCAT, which stands for the Greenfield Community Aquatic Team, was founded in 2008 and was the fastest improving swim club in Indiana in its first three years, according to Logan, who is the head coach along with his wife, Emily.