Although the next stage of their respective careers will take slightly different paths, two Center Grove swimming standouts will continue to learn from, encourage and to some degree resemble one another.
Chase Bettner and Caroline Sheehan are 2015 graduates. Their swimming legacies at Center Grove are well-established, as evidenced by multiple appearances and podium finishes at the IHSAA State Finals. But the teammates and friends are also optimistic about what comes next, both in the pool and as they prepare for the future.
Bettner will attend Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, where he will swim and study marketing and Spanish. Sheehan will be about a 40-minute car ride away at the University of Cincinnati, where she plans to study pre-speech pathology and compete for the Bearcats.
Bettner and Sheehan have swum together at Center Grove Aquatics under coach Jim Todd since they were in grade school. As they developed their talents alongside each other through countless training sessions and meets, a friendship formed, in part, by their mutual competitiveness.
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Chase notes the two do not have the same personalities but share a trait of desiring excellence in what they do.
“She’s probably one of the hardest-working people I’ve ever known. She never complains. While if I’m struggling in practice, I’ll complain about it a lot. That’s my way of coping with it, but she’s much more introverted,” Bettner said. “She has a silent discipline about her.
“If the coach writes an impossible practice (regimen) on the board, she will just say, ‘I’m going to do it,’ and then she does it.”
Bettner calls Sheehan a great teammate to work with in practice, explaining that as the team swims practice laps, he knows Sheehan will push him to go faster in the common swimming practice of chasing, where one swimmer swims behind another, but in the same lane. Similarly, Bettner will chase her when practicing the breaststroke, which he said is a much stronger event for Sheehan.
Sheehan agreed that the two share a strong competitive streak and help each other do better, but she noted that Bettner helps make the arduous and sometimes monotonous grind of training more enjoyable.
“Chase gives 100 percent at every practice, even if he’s having a bad day,” she said. “He tries his hardest every time, which you don’t see that often. He makes practices more lively and easier to get through.
“He’s very loud,” she added with a laugh.
Both swimmers noted that Sheehan will sometimes serve as a sounding board when Bettner wants to vent. But Sheehan also points out that one of her earliest memories of Bettner was his ability to motivate and be positive.
The pair were in the sixth grade. Caroline’s sister, Abby, who will swim next season at DePauw University, was trying to swim the 100-yard freestyle in less than a minute.
“He told her if she broke one minute we would make her a cake, and she did, so we did,” Sheehan said. “It was a really good cake.”
Bettner and Sheehan’s friendship will have to survive a bit of distance beginning in the fall. Bettner chose Miami over Michigan State and Ball State. He was impressed by Miami’s academic feel, which he described as “Ivy League-like.” He was also impressed with the swim program, including coaches, swimmers and facilities.
Sheehan’s transition to Cincinnati will have taken a more circuitous route. She originally signed a national letter with Western Kentucky University but was shocked in April to learn that the school had fired the coaches and suspended both the men’s and women’s swimming programs for five years following an investigation of hazing and sexual misconduct allegations by a former WKU team member.
Sheehan began contacting other interested programs, including Evansville and Illinois, but ultimately found Cincinnati to be the best fit.
“I hadn’t looked at (Cincinnati) before,” she said. “I was concerned because most of the scholarship money is given out in the fall, and it was April. I wasn’t sure if I could get a spot, but they were really helpful. I’m excited to get started there.”
Neither Bettner nor Sheehan has a particularly busy club competition schedule for the summer, although Bettner is hoping to qualify for the USA Swimming Junior Nationals in the 50-meter freestyle. Both swimmers are focusing on staying in shape via daily swimming workouts at Center Grove, plus running and weightlifting. Both said the training program they’ve been under with Todd’s program is similar to what they will see at the college level.
While the two will compete for separate programs, they will compete in at least a couple of the same meets next season, which both said they are looking forward to.
“I know we’ll be able to keep track of each other in college, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how well she does,” Bettner said. “She’s a good listener and a great friend.”
Someone once said friendships are not made, they happen. In the same manner, it seems likely that the friendship between the two Center Grove swimming standouts will continue well past their high school graduation.