As swimmers go, Franklin junior Griffin Edwards is a bit on the short side.

What Edwards lacks in height, though, he more than makes up in other areas.

“He’s always kind of punched a little higher than his fighting class,” Franklin coach Zach DeWitt said. “He’s one of the most competitive people I’ve met in any venture.”

The very large chip that Edwards already had on his shoulder because of his lack of height has only grown since his freshman year, when he suffered a broken back. He says he’s constantly driven to prove something to himself and to others, and to make his teammates and family proud.

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That drive showed last year, when Edwards set school marks in the 100-yard backstroke (52.35 seconds) and the 200 individual medley (1:54.15) while also swimming on two record-setting relay teams (200 medley, 400 freestyle).

A sectional champion in all four, Edwards scored individually at the state meet only in the backstroke, where he placed 14th. He narrowly missed the consolation final in the IM.

“I would have like to have done better at the state level,” Edwards said.

Improving upon his state showing is Edwards’ primary motivation as this season begins. He’ll likely stick with the backstroke, but he would prefer to switch from the IM to the butterfly after posting a junior national cut time in the 200 fly earlier this year.

Regardless of event, 14th place won’t be enough.

“I really want to be top eight in both (individual events) and score some points and make my name known,” Edwards said.

In addition to his individual aspirations, Edwards also has grand visions for the Grizzly Cubs as a whole. Both of the relay teams he swam on last winter landed on the podium at the state meet, and he’s excited about running those back with the likes of senior Michael Couet and junior Jacob Destrampe.

“We just have a special bond where we all can pull really fast times out,” Edwards said of swimming with those two.

With a strong freshman class making the Grizzly Cubs even deeper, the outspoken Edwards believes that the team is capable of challenging the state’s top teams after finishing 10th a year ago — and he’s not shy about pushing his teammates in an effort to make that happen.

“He’s not just a guy that has made himself better,” DeWitt said. “He makes others better as well. He does a fair amount of smack talking; that’s just kind of the way he rolls. That’s who Griffin is.”

Scouting Johnson County's boys swimming & diving teams

Center Grove Trojans

Coach: Jim Todd

Last year: Second in county and sectional, third in conference, tied for 43rd at state meet

Key returnees: Ethan Beaumont, Raiden Finchum and Adam Morrow, seniors; Brady Ferguson and Tony Gipson, sophomores

Outlook: The Trojans will be extremely young, with 19 freshmen and sophomores among the 22 currently on the roster. Beaumont and Gipson got a taste of state-meet experience swimming on a pair of relays last year, and they’ll try to make it back there as individuals. Center Grove’s success as a team will depend largely on whether any of the newcomers can contribute. For now, Todd just wants to see continued improvement across the board.

Franklin Grizzly Cubs

Coach: Zach DeWitt

Last year: Won county, conference and sectional titles; finished 10th at state meet

Key returnees: Michael Couet and Brock Lock, seniors; Gauge Creech, Jacob Destrampe, Griffin Edwards and Shane O’Sullivan, juniors; Maxwell Kramer, sophomore

Fresh faces: Barrett Daily, Cade Oliver and Ethan Pheifer, freshmen

Outlook: The rich get richer. Most of the top scorers are back from a top-10 state finisher, and the Grizzly Cubs have their sights set on cracking the top three this year. All three relays scored at state a year ago, Destrampe was second in the 200 freestyle and third in the 500, Creech was ninth in diving, and both Couet and Edwards also scored individually. Adding Oliver, who DeWitt said might be the best freshman in the state, could help Franklin push its way up into the discussion as the best team outside of Carmel.

Greenwood Woodmen

Coach: Matt Hockersmith

Last year: Fourth in county, fifth in conference and ninth in sectional

Key returnees: Gabe Ellington, Patrick Kear, KeShawn Matejka and Grant Rawlins, seniors; Clyde Vaught, junior

Fresh face: Luke Ellington, freshman

Outlook: The Woodmen lost the bulk of last year’s squad to graduation and don’t have very many experienced swimmers, so many of the freshmen coming in will have to learn on the fly. Hockersmith hopes that throwing some younger people into the fire this season will pay dividends in future years; the Woodmen will be judging their success this season by how well those swimmers progress.

Indian Creek Braves

Coach: Brad Smith

Last year: Second in conference, fifth in county and sixth in sectional

Key returnees: Tucker Brock and Nolan Reed, seniors; Cody Hart and Danny Carlson, juniors; Clay Key and Chase Smith, sophomores

Fresh face: Mac Ratzlaff, freshman

Outlook: The Braves have a dangerous nucleus led by Brock, Reed and Chase Smith, and Brad Smith believes that the addition of Ratzlaff gives him a formidable potential relay quartet. With its largest team in a generation (16 swimmers), Indian Creek hopes to have enough depth to win a conference title and perhaps finish in the top three at the sectional meet. Brock was a state qualifier last year in the 100 butterfly, and he could have some company there this winter.

Whiteland Warriors

Coach: Marci Whitford

Last year: Second in conference, third in county and sectional

Key returnees: Samuel Walls, senior; Austin Adkins, Collin Barton and Brenden Gough, juniors; Nick Klenner and Wyatt Sell, sophomores

Fresh face: Sam Udrasols, freshman

Outlook: The Warriors have been steadily climbing the ladder in recent years, and they’re hoping to make the leap past Center Grove this season to become the top local challenger to Franklin. Barton (a state qualifier last year) and Adkins will be a formidable diving duo, and Whitford expects Klenner and Sell to step up and join Gough as top point producers. Udrasols heads up a promising group of newcomers.

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Ryan O'Leary is sports editor for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at roleary@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2715.