With the WIAA state swimming championships this weekend, Chippewa Falls senior Austin Byrd will swim his final high school meet at the UW-Natatorium, the same place he will call home for the next four years. SportScene 13's Jenn Chapman has our Gordy's Prep Athlete of the Week.
Austin Byrd/Chippewa Falls Swimmer: "The hardest part of training is probably getting in the pool. One because it's cold and two because once you're in there, no going back after that. Getting in the pool I usually just run and jump in, that seems to help and is kind of fun sometimes "
Jenn Chapman/Reporting: Chippewa Falls returning state champion in the 100 backstroke Austin Byrd has been jumping in cold water since he was 4 years old. His father has always coached his teams, yet merely to see the view from the pool deck and to help Austin's teammates…not to coach Austin.
Steven Byrd/Austin's Father/Chi Hi Assistant Coach: "Generally I try not to coach him a whole lot. Often...I usually am coaching a different group and if there's something, I like him to know, I often will just ask another coach to tell him. He always seem to listen better. "
Both father and son credit the development of Austin's stroke to his YMCA coach since the age of 8, Paula Caucutt. Paula deflected the praise to the group Austin has trained with for years.
Paula Caucutt/Austin's YMCA Coach: "They have a training group here to train with, and they are just so competitive that they race against each other, get a better time and they all want that time, once one achieves it."
Austin's YMCA teammate but high school rival Eau Claire Memorial's state champion in breaststorke Alex Delakis out touched Byrd in the 200IM last weekend at sectionals but the healthy competition between the two provides for best times.
Alex DeLakis/E.C. Memorial Swimmer: "When Austin and I swim against each other we always know we are going to push each other. He's such a great athlete, and it's just so much fun to be able to swim with him."
And while Austin has his sights on defending his individual state title, it's the team aspect he relishes..
Austin Byrd: "It's not just you it's other people struggling with yourself and you know they're there and they're pushing you. It's fun. The comradarie it's just awesome."
The first Chippewa Falls swimmer to win a state title and now the first Chippewa Falls student to get a scholarship to the University of Wisconsin. Byrd hopes to qualify for NCAA nationals his freshman year with the Badgers. Caucutt believes Byrd will shine in Madison.
Paula Caucutt: "He's got nothing but blue skies in front of him. He's working towards his Olympic Trial cut right now. And with the training he's going to get at Madison and with the training partners he's going to have there, he's only going to excel. So it's really exciting!"
For Gordy's Prep Athlete of the Week, Jenn Chapman, Sports Scene 13.