PITTSFIELD - What do you do for an encore?
Taconic swimmer George Sommerville has been one of the better Berkshire County swimmers since his freshman year on Valentine Road. He is a reigning two-time All-Eagle most valuable player, and is a three-time All-Eagle pick.
And before starting a practice at the Pittsfield Family YMCA last week, Sommerville smiled when asked if he can believe this is his last year of high school swimming.
"A couple of days ago, I was talking with my friends and we were trying to say how hard it was to believe that we were seniors," Sommerville said. "The years went by quick, but I've enjoyed my years in high school."
Last year, Sommerville broke Taconic records in the 50-yard freestyle and 100-yard breaststroke.
The year before, he was third in the 100 butterfly at Western Mass., and fourth in the 100 breaststroke.
"I remember George as a youth swimmer," Wahconah coach Dave Lussier said in the All-Eagle story back in 2011. "[This year] was the first time I've seen him since and he still has that same kind of dominance. His accomplishments as a freshman were great for Berkshire County swimming."
In a moment of introspection, Sommerville said that while he wanted to be as good a swimmer as he could be, he did not imagine his resume would be as full as it is now.
"Not at all. I just went into it thinking that I would do my own path, make friends along the way and hopefully do the best that I can," he said. "That's what I've really done."
Sommerville said that he didn't really begin heavy-duty swim training until September, and added that he's rounding into competition shape. His successes over the first three years, particularly last year, help push him ahead.
"I worked at a camp and didn't swim that much over the summer. I thought about states a lot, and I thought about how I was going to do and how I was going to prepare," he said. "I started preseason a couple of months back. I'm not in shape completely, but I'm working on it."
Marisa Plant is in her fifth year as the Taconic coach, and has been Sommerville's head coach throughout his high school career. She says it all starts with Sommerville. The coach said that he seems a little more relaxed this year, but he is ready to go.
"I see him really blossoming as a leader on the team," she said. "I think that'll push him to lead by example and to show kids this is how you should be doing things."
His success in the water is well-documented. The Taconic coach said that his out-of-the-pool leadership qualities have matured even more than his swim skills.
"I knew he had it in him," said Plant. "Seeing him get into this role, I can really see him knowing what to say and how to get them excited and ready to swim."
Taconic junior Gillian Campbell is one of the veteran leaders on the Taconic team. She is catching up to her teammates after a bout of mono sidelined her at the end of soccer season. But Campbell is one of those Taconic swimmers who watches Sommerville swim and interact with his teammates. She said his success in the water has helped her set her sights higher.
"[His success] pushes me the most. I'm always trying to keep up with
him in practice, trying to stay with him," Campbell said. "I can't all
the time, but he definitely keep people on his toes. He just gets
everyone else motivated."