Wyeth Brock never was one of the biggest kids in the Indian Creek Aquatics Club.
He was one of the smallest.
Among boys his age, he might have been the smallest — a dubious distinction that didn’t change when he got to Indian Creek High School and joined the varsity team.
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“I don’t know how you poetically put it, but he’s always been behind, physically,” Braves coach Brad Smith said. “He was a small string bean.”
But that was then.
This is now.
Three years ago, Brock was a 5-foot-2 freshman who was practically invisible in tournament competition.
Today, he is a 5-8 junior who is a sectional champion — and first-time IHSAA state meet qualifier — in the 100-meter butterfly and the 100 backstroke.
Sectional champs automatically qualify for the state meet, which begins tonight and concludes Saturday at the Indiana University Natatorium at IUPUI.
By any definition, qualifying for two events is a breakout season.
“It feels kind of weird to be on top of the sectionals after not being close (previously), but it definitely feels great,” said Brock, one of only three individuals to win two events at last week’s tournament. “That was our goal all season, was to get on top of the podium at sectionals and make it to state.
“It was kind of a relief and really exciting at the same time.”
Especially for a determined athlete whose size never kept pace with his talent.
A 10-year veteran of the school’s aquatics club, Brock worked tirelessly on his skills and never considered giving up the sport despite being constantly behind physically stronger peers.
For long periods of time, his times never dropped. Yet he kept at it, never gauging his success against anybody else’s. His sole focus was on personal gains, however incremental.
And in time, his times did drop. To the point where peers are now chasing him.
Having grown 6 inches between his freshman and junior seasons, his physicality finally caught up with his ability.
“There have been points when I wasn’t able to drop any time, and it was really hard,” Brock said. “I kept at. Last summer I dropped a lot of time. This year I’ve dropped even more time. A lot of it is strength combined with endurance.
“Even though I was always small, still had pretty good endurance. I just didn’t have the power to compete with the really big guys.”
Now, he does.
“His perseverance is his greatest attribute. He’s stuck with it all these years and just continues to work hard,” Smith said. “Mother Nature is starting to kick in. Once he started gaining power, then it was just like a well-oiled machine. The technique already had been there.
“He’s been seeing his time drop, and it’s manifested into a snowball effect where he got excited about time drops, and then he worked harder, and it’s been a great season for him from the standpoint of seeing the effects of his hard work pay off.”
Another reward for his perseverance is the chance to duplicate, or perhaps top, his older brother’s state meet successes.
A four-year standout for the Braves, Levi Brock — now a freshman on the Indiana University men’s swim team — was a multiple-event state meet qualifier. He finished eighth at last year’s finals in the 100 breaststroke and was ninth in the 50 freestyle.
But as been his approach the past decade, the younger Brock isn’t competing against anyone but himself. His objective is to drop time. Period. Placing will take care of itself.
“I’m really just looking to drop time, and definitely I want to try to make the consolation finals at least in one of my events,” Brock said. “Next year is going to be the same.
“I’m going to work all summer and work all winter and try to drop even more time and hopefully place at the state meet.”
What: IHSAA Boys Swimming and Diving State Finals
Friday: 6 p.m., swimming preliminaries
Saturday: 9 a.m., diving preliminaries and semifinals; 1 p.m., consolations and finals for all events
Site: Indiana University Natatorium, IUPUI, 901 W. New York St., Indianapolis
Admission: $8 per session; $12 both days
Advancement: The top 16 in each swimming event during Friday’s preliminaries advance to Saturday, with the top eight individuals vying for state championships. Those finishing ninth through 16th on Friday compete in the consolation heats. All diving will take place Saturday, with the top 20 of 32 advancing from the preliminaries to the semifinals after five dives each. After three semifinal dives, the top 16 advance to the final round for another three dives each.
Franklin: Adam Destrampe, 200 free, 500 free; Adam Culp, 50 free, 100 free; James Pryor, 100 breaststroke; 200 freestyle relay; 400 freestyle relay
Center Grove: Chase Bettner, 100 freestyle; 200 medley relay
Indian Creek: Wyeth Brock, 100 butterfly, 100 backstroke