Hendricken grad sets sights on regionals
Ian Watters began team swimming in kindergarten. He took lessons, and was encouraged by his parents to take his skills to the next level.
Over the years, his skill set rose quickly like a buoy held underwater and then released – from the YMCA, to swim clubs, to perennial swimming powerhouse Bishop Hendricken High School.
Watters earned All-State Honors his junior and senior years at Hendricken. At the 2008 state championship meet, he placed second in the 500-yard freestyle, third in the 200-yard individual medley, and his relay team finished second in the 220-yard medley relay. That same year Watters was awarded the Outstanding Senior Swimmer award at Hendricken.
His high school teams placed first in the state each of his four years. As a senior, Watters helped Hendricken win its 19th consecutive swimming championship.
In his final year at Hendricken, Watters agreed to sacrifice the opportunity to get his name on the Top Five Plaque, which recognizes the top-five finishing times for a given stroke in Hendricken’s swimming history. Watters felt that he was certain to earn his place in the breaststroke, but agreed, when asked by his coach, to train for distance freestyle races, thereby strengthening the team overall.
From Hendricken, Watters was off to St. Thomas University in Minnesota. After two years and a conference championship, he transferred to Keene State College in New Hampshire.
The result has been a gratifying first year at Keene State.
Ian’s father, Rear Adm. Robin Watters, is the chief of staff of the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Command, and is stationed in Hawaii. His mother, Pam, lives in Jamestown. Ian said that he and his mother travel to Hawaii whenever they can.
At St. Thomas, Watters joined the Navy ROTC, giving him a taste of a potential career choice. At Keene State, Watters limits his focus to academics and swimming but said that he would likely consider Officer Candidate School for the Army or the Navy following graduation.
As a junior at Keene State, Watters trains hard under the direction of Head Coach Jack Fabian. Watters said that “a lot of yardage” is typical of the 10-practices-a-week routine.
Watters said that his current time is two-tenths of a second off of his personal record for the 100-yard breaststroke. He is confident that he will beat that time at the New England Intercollegiate Swimming and Diving Championships held at Bentley College in Waltham, Mass., beginning tomorrow.
An exercise science major, Watters said that a small stroke detail could make the difference in terms of fractions of a second.
Watters described the mentality of the Keene State swim team as one that values speed in every race: “They all try to be as fast as they can,” he said. “It’s a good environment.” Lately, Watters has been focusing his time on the individual medley.
The individual medley combines 100 yards each of the four main swimming strokes – the butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle. Watters described the race as “fun in a twisted kind of way. Very fun, but painful.”
He explained that the four sprints create a 400-yard long-distance medley that uses different muscle groups. Watters said that the race pushes “each muscle group to near failure.”
He said that training for the individual medley event makes tapering – the time when swimmers cut back in order to store energy for a meet – more challenging because he begins to really miss the strenuous exercise.
To catch up and replenish his store of endorphins, Watters said he plans to go for a 20-mile run after this week’s championships.
During the offseason, Watters said that he enjoys the rigors of Brazilian Jujitsu under Pat Watterson, a former Navy SEAL and the founder of Two Swords Brazilian Jujitsu Academy in Middletown.
Sometimes a pool just isn’t big enough. Last December, Ian competed in the annual Hawaiian Christmas Looong Distance Invitational Rough-H20 Swim, a 4.3-mile openwater swimming event. Ian finished third overall with a time of 1:54:15.
Watters said that he loves summers on the beach scanning the ocean, but don’t picture him in a beach chair at Mackerel Cove. This summer will be his sixth as a lifeguard at Middletown’s Second Beach. “I like the responsibility,” he said.
With all of that time spent in, on, or near water, one question seemed obvious: What has the water taught Ian?
“Commit to a goal,” he said. “Even if you don’t achieve that goal you are still a better person for having tried.”