Jake Eckert figures he might have stood an even 6-foot in August 2009 when he embarked on the strange new world known as his freshman year at Center Grove High School.
Funny thing, those growth spurts. They happen when you least expect them.
One of the primary point producers for the 10th-ranked Trojans boys swim team this season, the even-keeled senior, one of the state’s best in the 100-yard butterfly and 200 individual medley, currently checks in at 6-5 and 205 pounds.
“He’s probably the tallest swimmer I’ve ever had. It helps him,” said Center Grove coach Jim Todd, who has presided over the program since the 1984-85 season. “I would like to get him back to the state meet and hopefully improve on what he did last year.”
THE ECKERT FILE
Name: Jake Eckert
School: Center Grove
Family: Parents, Mike and Diana; brothers, Luke, 12, and Cole, 8
Favorite TV show: “Family Guy”
Favorite food: Chinese
Favorite movie: “The Dark Knight Rises”
Favorite athlete: Michael Jordan
Favorite team: Indianapolis Colts
Eckert capped off a 2011-12 season by taking 11th in the 100 fly in 52.25 seconds and 16th in the 200 IM in a time of 1:59.78. This after coming in second and first, respectively, in the same events a week earlier at the Franklin Sectional.
The story behind what led to Eckert becoming one of the top-flight high school swimmers in Johnson County is a real kick.
“When I was 10, I got cut from soccer, and I’ve been swimming ever since. I grew up on my grandma’s lake near Bremen over the summers and just kept with it,” Eckert said. “I was 12 when I won state in two of my relays and have been at it ever since.”
Those who don’t know Eckert’s reputation might think he’s a member of the school’s basketball team given his God-given leverage.
He actually did play hoops through the seventh grade, but by then swimming had surfaced as his No. 1 athletics priority.
Eckert plans to swim collegiately, though at this juncture he’s not certain where. Numerous programs at the next level have shown an interest.
Until then, Eckert would like nothing more than to put his name on the large board advertising the record-holding times of Trojans swimmers.
Not once, but twice.
Eckert’s all-time best of 51.57 seconds in the 100 fly at sectional last winter is just a shade under a second off Rawley Davis’ program standard of 50.69. Also, he’ll need to chop nearly three seconds off his personal best in the 200 IM (1:57.5) if he plans to surpass 2011 Center Grove graduate Grant Schwarz, who blazed a 1:54.95.
Davis has since transferred to North Central High School, where he is a junior standout for the second-ranked Panthers. His best time this season of 52.38 is eighth-best among boys swimmers so far, with Eckert (53.72) not far behind.
It’s possible Eckert could wind up only a lane or two over from his former before- and after-school training partner should both advance to state. Perhaps that would be motivation enough to put Eckert’s name on the Center Grove record board once and for all.
Looking up at the board, Todd said, “Every one of those kids placed very high at the state meet to get those times. But Jake has really come a long way in the four years we’ve had him. I would love to see him be more aggressive, but his parents are great people who are very calm, so I’m sure that’s why he’s calm, too.”
Maybe a bit of uncharacteristic demonstrativeness is only a few great times away. One never knows, especially if Eckert finds a way to get his name on that wall.