After four Junior Nationals, a Senior Nationals and a trip last Thanksgiving to the Junior Elite Training Camp, the future for South Lakes swimmer Greg Clever appears bright.
"With his capability, he can do what he wants," said Peter Eddy, Clever's coach at South Lakes. "It's entirely up to him. He's on the threshold."
Clever wants to prove his coach correct. "When I was 10 years old, I really got into it, dedicating my whole life to swimming," he said. " . . . I don't really feel lucky. I feel like I deserve it. I have been swimming for 11 years. The rewards should be something."
The 1988 Olympics would certainly be something.
Clever, 17, who transferred to South Lakes for his senior year after attending Marshall his first three years, has the third-best junior time nationally in the 100-yard breaststroke (57.66). That time ranks 40th overall.
Because of his time in the 100 breaststoke, he was invited last fall to the first-ever National Junior Elite Training Camp in Long Beach, Calif., where potential Olympic swimmers were groomed. The group was in fact elite; only 48, the top three in each event at the nationals, were asked to train.
"They wanted us to get the feel of international meets, like if we went over to Russia or China," Clever said. "And it gave us a chance to train with other coaches (including Ed Sinnott, coach of Olympic swimmer Steve Lundquist), who filmed us underwater and showed us new stroke techniques. They chose us because they thought we would be the '88 Olympians."
At the camp, Clever said, the swimmers were put through a daily routine of swimming, technique instruction and nutrition and sports psychology lectures. Also, the trainees were taught how to act when the television or radio microphone invades their space. "We'd have media training," he explained, "and they would take a few swimmers and put them in front of the camera so they would know what to say if they're on TV."
In addition to the training camp and nationals, Clever and Eddy feel, college swimming is an important springboard to the Olympics. Clever is concerned with getting the best possible teaching.
"If he is affiliated with the right school, that is crucial," said Eddy.
"I don't think (college) will hurt (my times) that much," said Clever. "But it could help it or take away a little."
Clever, who also swims the 200-yard breaststroke (2:06.4) and the 50-yard freestyle (21.3), spends most of his time training with the Solotar club. He says he has competed infrequently in the South Lakes Seahawks' high school meets because of his commitment to Solotar but enjoys the atmosphere of dual competition. During the Northern Virginia regionals, for instance, he was ill but went anyway to see how his teammates would place.
With the Senior Nationals in Los Angeles coming up in April, Clever will get a chance to see how much he has improved.
"My particular goal right now is to make the top 16 at the nationals," he says. "To do that, I'm going to have to drop my time. There's not much else I can do."