Swimming was never his plan from the beginning, but by the end of his senior year this Kentwood student has broken two school swim records.
Matthew Shull, a senior, started swimming when he was a freshman in high school.
He said when he was younger he loved to swim casually, but never competitively.
Shull said he tried out for the Kentwood boys swim team because his friends were trying out so he thought ‘Why not?’
“I thought it’s at least one week of trying out and swimming,” Shull said. So he figured he had nothing to lose.
Shull said his parents and himself, thought he would not make the swim team, but to their surprise he made the team.
“I didn’t think I’d make it because back then I was really not healthy. I was really overweight (and) swim was not really on my mind until going to the informational meeting (before tryouts),” Shull said. “I never really saw myself in a Speedo ever.”
Making the team was only the beginning. The next step was practicing and conditioning, which according to Shull is so brutal he almost quit a few times.
He said as a conditioning workout, the team does what Shull called “lung busters.” Those are where the swimmer will lunge themselves off the wall of the pool, and swim without breathing for a certain amount of time, according to a fitness website. The workout is supposed to improve the swimmer’s stamina.
“I was thinking it would all be over if I just got out of the pool (during lung busters),” Shull said.
Aside from being in agony from lung busters, Shull said this season was a perfect ending to his senior year.
“I actually really enjoyed this season, maybe just less lung busters, but besides that I don’t think I would change anything,” he said.
According to Shull’s swim coach, Justin Moser, he beat the school’s 100 yard breaststroke record set by another student in 2009. He broke the record with a time of 1:00.28, shaving off more than a second of the previous student’s time.
When Shull graduates from Kentwood this spring, he said he wants to possibly major in computer science, engineering or business, but has not decided yet.
He said his first-choice school is the University of Washington but he said he has also considered going to Georgia Tech in Atlanta, Georgia.
“One of the colleges I applied to (is) Georgia Tech and they’re a huge swimming school. I don’t know if I’m anywhere near that level but if I could get a scholarship I would do it,” Shull said.
If Shull does end up going to UW, he said he would try to at least swim as a hobby since the Huskies do not have a swim program.
Shull said he is going to miss his friends the most when he leaves for college.
He said he will miss hanging out with them and exchanging looks during practices when they knew a hard drill was coming up.
Shull also said he could not have done this without his coaches, Moser and Edward Quintos. He said he would not be where he is today if it wasn’t for them.
“Overall I’d say that swimming is one of my biggest accomplishments ever, like ever. This is something I am truly good at. I am truly happy that I did this,” Shull said. “My original goal was just to have fun and get a better body. Now I hold two school records, which I didn’t think was possible.”