Senior Steven Finley has been swimming for Loy Norrix’s team all four years of high school. Finley was first introduced to swimming at the YMCA where he would swim for fun, but once he reached high school, his mom encouraged him to go out for the team. Along with his mom’s encouragement, Finley knew some of his friends were also joining, influencing his decision to become part of the LN swim team.
After his freshman year, Finley was hooked on swimming and his coach, Paul Mahar, took notice.
“Coming in his freshmen year, he had little experience but as he grew in the sport, he found parts of swimming that he truly loved and that gave him some motivation to look higher up, like qualifying for the conference meet and qualifying for the state meet,” said Mahar.
Finley started aiming for state during his sophomore year, but it wasn’t until junior year that his skills really began to develop.
“I started doing everything an athlete could, eating healthy, stretching, drinking water, and doing Kalamazoo United [during the off season],” said Finley.
In his junior year, he missed the cut for state for the 100 yard breaststroke by a mere 0.08 seconds; his time was 1:04.07 seconds, whereas the qualifying time was 1:03.59.
“[Missing the state cut last season] made me hungry to work harder, [so] I started to train year round,” said Finley.
Previously, Finley played football during the fall sports season, and has been since 6th grade (excluding freshman year). However, Finley decided to drop football his senior year to continue training towards swimming in the state meet.
Going into the season, coach Mahar continued to keep him concentrated on his goal.
“I think that it takes a good mentor to help make any top athlete. He had a goal and he needed somebody like myself to keep him focused,” said Mahar.
After all his dedication and commitment to qualifying for states, Finley achieved his goal on January 5th, 2016 at Kalamazoo Central High School. Finley swam a 1:03.42 in the 100 breaststroke and qualified for state by .17 seconds.
“There’s nothing better [than] when you work hard for a goal and you achieve it. [This] is something I’ll remember forever,” said Finley.
However, even after achieving his goal, Finley knows there’s still work to be done.
“I’m setting milestones for myself [before I go to state]. I hope to break the school record (1:02.12 in the 100 breaststroke), and then a month later or maybe even sooner, I would like to get under a minute,” said Finley.
Since the season is just beginning, Finley has a couple of months to train before state, which is on March 11 & 12th.
“We have such a focus group and large group who are students of the sports and they have set their goals high and I have just confirmed it as a coach. We’re looking to have our best finish in my career and one of the better years in history,” said Mahar.