High Five: Cole attempts rare feat

Published 5:54 pm Friday, December 15, 2023

Southside senior Ty Cole has made it to consecutive swimming state tournaments in the 100 backstroke and 200 freestyle and plans on returning one last time. He’s also attempting to qualify for the East regional in all nine individual events, including the 50, 100, 200 and 500 yard freestyle, the breast, back and butterfly strokes and the individual medley that combines all four strokes. The Blounts Creek native and Beta Club member explains the motive behind the challenge.

  1. Why are you trying to qualify in all the events knowing that you can’t compete in all of them at the regional?

Ty: Just to say that I did it. I like to challenge myself with different things in and out of the water, so trying this has kept the season interesting so far. I’m about halfway there and it’s been fun so far. The 500 freestyle will be tough because I don’t swim that event very often. I like all the strokes and the IM combines them all, so we’ll see. It’s fun to set goals, reach them, then set new ones.

  1. You have two older sisters, Dara and Delta, who swam competitively. Did you start swimming because they were doing it?

Ty: My mom started all of us very young because she knew it was healthy exercise and a good environment for us. I starting liking to compete in fifth grade when I broke 30 seconds in the 50 free for the first time. After that, I starting swimming all year and have been with the East Carolina Aquatics team since we moved back from the western part of the state when I was a sophomore. My sisters have motivated me to improve since I started. It was fun to beat Delta’s time in the 50 when I was a sophomore.

  1. The difference between winning and fourth place at the state level can come down to a tenth of a second. What are the keys to maximizing your speed, particularly in the sprints where it’s a down and back race?

Ty: Starts and turns are the most important. You want a long, clean dive so you can hit the water and reach top speed quickly. After swimming for so long, I know when I’m close to the wall and use the reference markers at the bottom of the pool. You want to tuck into a ball for the flip turn at just the right distance to get a strong push off for the final lap. After that, you just move as fast and smooth as possible until the finish.

  1. What are your interests outside the pool?

Ty: They are mostly water-related. I was a student at the Little Washington Sailing School for three years, then I’ve been an instructor the past two summers and plan to do it again this summer. I’ve met a lot of neat kids and it’s fun to teach them to sail. It’s also helped me with my leadership skills. I also play acoustic guitar for Young Life events. John Frusciante of the Red Hot Chili Peppers is my favorite guitarist.

  1. What are your plans after graduation?

Ty: To study engineering somewhere. I’ve already been accepted at East Carolina and am waiting to hear from N.C. State, which is my first choice. I’ve also applied to UNC-Wilmington for their coastal engineering program. I’m interested in civil and electrical and will use college to figure it out. I’ve always liked tinkering with motors and can see myself working for DOT or at Cherry Point.