Warren's boys and girls swim teams return a number of standouts.
In other sports.
"We get a certain percentage of kids who swam through the YMCA program, and we've also been recruiting kids from other sports to get in the pool," said Warren head coach Jeff Walters, who enters his ninth season. "We put the challenge out every year, get out there and bring in a friend."
Times Observer photo by Andrew Morrison
From left, in front, Cody McGraw, Eddie Ord, and Eric Cecco (football); second row, Liam Boger (soccer) and Luke Wortman (football, track), and; top, Cayla Leichtenberger (gymnastics) are taking on swimming in 2012-13.
Time Observer photo by Andrew Morrison
Swim team athletes, including, from left, Liam Boger, Cody McGraw, Luke Wortman, Eric Cecco, Eddie Ord, and Cayla Leichtenberger, pose at the starting blocks at the Warren County YMCA.
Brad Walters, Luke Wortman, in football
Liam Boger, soccer
The challenge seems to have paid off in numbers.
"We had 37 kids at the first practice," he said. "I told them to ask anyone they wanted to bring in. The next day we had 40, then 43. We don't want to turn anybody away."
Gymnasts, soccer players, football players, basketball players, now swimmers.
It helps that coach Walters' son, Brad, convinced some of his friends from the Dragons football program; Cody McGraw, Eddie Ord, Eric Cecco, and Luke Wortman are in their first year in the swim program after this year's playoff run on the gridiron.
There are two offensive linemen on the swim team.
"I've known these kids from coming up in the youth football leagues," said Walters. "They're good kids who like a challenge."
Swimming at the high school level provides that challenge, to say the least.
"The first couple of workouts, they have no idea how hard it is," said Walters. "Swimming teaches self-discipline. You have to go to bed early to be ready for the early morning practices, and you have to eat right. If you aren't eating right you're going to feel it in the pool."
You're working muscles you haven't worked before, even if you're muscle-bound.
"I didn't realize how much of a full-body workout it was. I was feeling soreness in muscles I didn't know I had," said Ord, who competes as part of a relay team Walters put together of the newly-added football players. "As we go along, I think I'm getting better at it and handling the workouts a little better. I feel a lot more comfortable in the freestyle as part of the relay."
McGraw said he took to the pool as a way to stay in shape after he didn't go out for the Dragons basketball team.
"(I joined) for something new," he said. "I've always watched Olympic athletes swim and I wished I could do it."
"It was definitely frustrating," said Liam Boger, an all-state soccer all-star who joined the program last year as a junior. "Going from soccer season straight into the swim season was 'humbling,' as coach Walters says. The coaches and teammates were welcoming and encouraging, and by the end of the season, it wasn't that bad."
Boger, who has attracted attention from Division I soccer programs, said the conditioning aspect of swimming has helped him on the field.
"Swimming has really helped me with core strength and endurance, specifically lung capacity," said Boger. "I have mentioned it (to college coaches) and they usually seem surprised and impressed, knowing how demanding the sport can be."
On the girls side, senior Cayla Leichtenberger is out for the first time after having competed in gymnastics since she was in kindergarten.
"I did swimming this year because I am good friends with a lot of the kids on the team and I thought it would be fun," she said. "Ellis Beardsley has been trying to get me to dive all of high school because I am a gymnast, so I thought I would give it a try."
Leichtenberger admits that the transition from gymnastics to diving hasn't been easy, or it's been a bit strange.
"The hardest part of diving so far is entering the water head-first," she said. "As a gymnast, I want to land in the water feet first every time. That's the hardest thing to get in my head."
In addition to the high number of participants, Walters says the swimmers brought in from other sports bring a level of competition that benefits the entire program.
"We don't have a J.V. team," said Walters. "We get three lanes per race, and everyone is competing for those three spots. The new guys might not go out and qualify for districts or states, but they contribute to the program in a big way."