Still manage to win plenty of first-place gold
Think about the differences between an 11-year-old and a 14-year-old; the differences between a sixth-grader and a freshman in high school.
In Garrett Alleven’s case, he is outmatched in height and strength at swim meets every weekend. No matter, Alleven won six first-place medals last weekend in Hesston.
Alleven, 11, is one of three Marion swimmers swimming up an age level.
“The biggest thing for them having to overcome is that size and strength advantage. If you have better strokes, you can still win,” Head coach Rod Garman said. “Garrett absolutely has wonderful technique. He’s a hard worker and a very good listener. He’s very coachable.”
Luke Lanning, 8, swam in both the 8 and younger and 9-and-10 age groups last week at Hesston. He won four first-place medals in the 8 and younger level and had two first-place wins at the 9- and 10-year-old level.
Janson Garman, 10, swam in the 11- and 12-year-old age group at Marion’s first home meet June 19. He won four first-place medals at the meet. At Marion’s first meet in Abilene, Janson swam with his twin brother Cooper in the 9 and 10 group and against his friend and rival Braden Vogt of Hillsboro.
Rod Garman said Lanning and Janson Garman are both competitive and strong swimmers, but they have a strong feel in the water.
“They really pull the water,” Rod Garman said. “If you have good catch, it gets you farther on every stroke.”
The reason Alleven, Janson Garman, and Lanning have all moved up a level is to increase their level of competition.
“Of course you want to win,” Alleven said. “so it will make you swim harder.”
Rod Garman said that Alleven in particular was pushed in freestyle and butterfly by a talented swimmer from Peabody last week. In practice, Alleven is challenged by Zac Lewman and Nick Meyer to perform his best.
For Janson Garman, the move up to the 11- and 12-year-old group also means a change in distance. Instead of 25 yards for individual events, the distance moves to two lengths of the pool, or 50 yards. Rod Garman said that his son can easily handle the change in distance.
“Janson, the other night, swam 200-yard individual medley for Newton,” Rod Garman said.
Alleven, Janson and Cooper Garman, and Lanning swim for a club team in Newton year-round. While they don’t practice with the club team during the summer swim season, they still participate in Tuesday night meets.
The difference between club swimming and summer league is huge for each swimmer.
“Here, I have to be careful with how hard I push these kids,” Rod Garman said. “If you’re swimming on a year-round club team, you’re not there to be social.”
Alleven has even parlayed the club experience to compete at a Level 1 regional meet against swimmers from throughout the Midwest.
Alleven specifically cited a competition with Michael Andrew, a swimmer from South Dakota.
“I went from 39 seconds to 37 seconds in the breast stroke,” Alleven said. “I wanted to beat him so bad in the breaststroke because that’s kind of my fastest stroke.”
The type of competition that Alleven found at the Level 1 regional meet is exactly the type of competition Rod Garman is trying to foster with his three advanced swimmers in the summer.
“I can beat them at 13 and 14,” Alleven said with confidence.