Had everything in Raiden Finchum’s high school swimming career gone as scripted, the Center Grove senior would be heading into the postseason chasing down a school record and a possible state medal in the 100-yard breaststroke.
A knee injury that took away his entire sophomore season derailed Finchum’s best laid plans, however, and he’s had to reset his goals somewhat.
“I had six months where I was just completely out,” he said, “and it was hard, because I’ve always wanted to swim, and I want to pursue swimming in college, so that was very rough for me.”
Story continues below gallery
An injured knee impacts the breaststroke more than any other event because of the angle of the snap kick involved, so Finchum — who also swims the 200 individual medley for the Trojans — faced a long road back.
He and Center Grove coach Jim Todd were able to strike a balance between doing the necessary work to get better but not pushing so hard that the knee got damaged again.
“I still have to be kind of careful because I’m afraid that if I do something or squat too low or do the stairs too much that I’ll hurt myself or re-injure it,” Finchum said. “So I’m very wary about how it feels or just little pain, if it’s sore or different things.”
“He just worked into it very gradually,” Todd added. “He’s a smart kid, so he didn’t overdo it and try to get it all back too early.”
Little by little, Finchum has gotten it back. His best mid-January time in the breaststroke (1:02.06) was about three seconds ahead of where he was at the same point last year, and he’s hopeful that he can knock that time down well below a minute when he’s fully tapered.
The automatic state cut time for this year is 58.47 seconds, and 59.56 was the cutoff last season for at-large bids. Finchum, who finished second to Franklin’s Michael Couet at the county meet, figures he should be within striking distance of those times at this week’s sectional.
He’d like to make it to the state meet and go around 58 seconds there, even if that isn’t enough to get him into a position to score points.
“I think just getting to state would be the big end goal for me,” Finchum said. “Competing and scoring points at state, I think, would be a bit of a push. That ship, I definitely think, has sailed.”
The state meet won’t be the end of the line, though. His dream of swimming at Indiana University probably slipped out of reach when he was injured, but Finchum is drawing some interest from other college programs, including the University of Indianapolis.
Todd feels that the format of collegiate meets, which features longer distances than high school meets, should allow Finchum to blossom even more.
“He’s going to get a lot better, because he’s a big kid,” Todd said. “If he wants to swim in college, he definitely can do that.
“He’s really worked his tail off, and he’s been one of our strong leaders this year.”
A look at what to watch for at this week’s Franklin Sectional:
Swimmers and divers to watch
Center Grove: Brady Ferguson, Raiden Finchum, Tony Gipson
Franklin: Michael Couet, Gauge Creech, Jacob Destrampe, Griffin Edwards, Max Kramer, Brock Lock, Cade Oliver
Greenwood: Gabe Ellington
Indian Creek: Tucker Brock, Mac Ratzlaff, Nolan Reed, Chase Smith
Whiteland: Austin Adkins, Collin Barton, Brenden Gough
Times to watch
Event;Automatic state cut;2017 at-large cut
200 medley relay;1:37.75;1:39.24
200 free relay;1:28.17;1:29.82
400 free relay;3:13.38;3:16.21
Swimming preliminaries, 5:30 p.m.
Diving preliminaries, 9 a.m.
Swimming and diving finals, 1 p.m.