Harris setting a good example

Published 7:34 pm Thursday, December 6, 2012

Washington swimmer Luke Harris (center) was tabbed to be the captain of the Pam Pack swim team by his coach Spencer Pake at the start of the season and the senior has excelled in the role. (WDN Photos/Brian Haines)

Luke Harris wants to major in zoology, which makes sense considering he’s been a beast for the Washington swim team.
Last season as a junior, Harris was part of the 400-yard freestyle relay team that placed 10th in at the NCHSAA 3-A state meet. Harris would also qualify for state in the 200-yard and 100-yard freestyles and finished in the top-25 in both.
Back for his senior year, Harris, who wants to study optometry once he’s done with zoology, has his eyes set on improving on last year’s stellar season.
“I just want to keep breaking times,” Harris said. “I want to keep pushing myself and keep dropping those seconds.”
It’s that kind of competitive spirit that allowed Harris and his teammates to win last year’s Coastal Conference meet with a spectacular late rally. It’s also just one of the reasons why when Pam Pack coach Spencer Pake was looking to replace last year’s captains, Cole Smithwick and Gabe Sheppard, he looked to the senior Harris.
“It was just the way he stepped up last year, and I saw his rapport with the team and the kids and they looked up to him as a leader,” Pake said. “I knew he would be able to fill those shoes this year.
“The team looks to him for advice and motivation. That’s what I look for in a leader. If my back’s turned he can take over.”
He can also take over in the pool. To excel in swimming one must have the right mentality and focus and the Pack senior has the right blend of both.
“He dedicates himself,” Pake said. “He’s got the right mindset. When he puts his mind to something he works for it. He strives to be good and he’s gotten better every single year to the point where he is pretty much my go-to guy along with his counterpart Robert Sandy.”
This year Harris is competing in the 200-yard medley, 200- and 100-yard freestyles and the 400-yard freestyle medley. Out of all the events, Harris said the 200 freestyle is his favorite.
“In the 200 I’m able to go out and keep a constant speed. I just feel good about it,” Harris said.
While competing in so many events can be physically grueling, Harris said the mental aspect of swimming is more challenging.
“I think it’s mentally (tougher),” Harris said. “You have to trying to keep your composure underwater trying to get all those breathes while swimming faster than everybody.”
Pake felt the 200 freestyle was Harris’ best event and he is looking for his senior swimmer to continue to improve at it.
“He’s one of those kids that will excel in anything I put him in, but right now we’re focusing on his 200 free,” Pake said. “He’s got the stamina to do that very well and the speed to get under two minutes and that’s our goal for him right now and I’d like to see him get to about 1:55 by states.”
There’s no doubt Harris will make a push to meet that mark and that the example he sets in trying to do so will affect his younger teammates.
Pake said that Harris has had an overwhelmingly positive impact on this year’s squad.
“He means everything to this team,” Pake said. “He’s very talented very athletic. You can replace talent, but it’s hard to replace leadership and that’s what he really brings to this team. He’s going to be going places in life.”