Sommerville’s finally rounding into form
PITTSFIELD -- George Sommerville is just now rounding into form. That’s a scary thought heading into the 2014 postseason.
He wasn’t going to swim club in the offseason leading into his senior season. He did end up getting in the pool with Purple Valley Aquatics in the three months leading up to the season.
The offseason work was about what the senior’s become accustomed to since he began swimming varsity. Many other top swimmers compete year-round to bolster both endurance and technique. He admits he’s behind the curve early in the high school season when compared to those who swim year-round, or close to it.
"Three months doesn’t really do much," he said. "It definitely helps since I don’t swim during the summer and the spring, but compared to everyone else, I’m usually far behind. I have to work really hard during high school to get myself into pace."
The general thought since he broke onto the scene his sophomore season was everyone’s chasing Sommerville. It’s actually not quite the case, at least not at the beginning of the season.
That first three-month period is just the beginning of what turns into a five-month long training period for the Western Massachusetts and state meets held each February.
"Personally, I feel like it takes me month and a half to two months to actually get back into the groove of things, and just feeling my stroke, getting back to normal times," Sommerville said.
That means all those top times he turns in during the regular season are just a teaser for what’s to come in the postseason. Just take a look at the past two Western Mass. and state meets.
In 2012, he took a full second off his 100 freestyle seed time at states and a tenth off his 50 free (he didn’t swim either at Western Mass.). What he did at Western Mass. was equally as impressive, dropping more than 2 seconds off his 100 breaststroke seed time and nearly a second off his 100 butterfly seed time. He finished fifth in both.
Last year wasn’t much different at states. He bested his 50 free and 100 breast seed times by more than 2 seconds. He finished fourth and third, respectively.
With his times constantly dropping throughout the season, and a history of that continuing throughout the postseason, it’s hard for anyone beside him -- and sometimes even himself -- to predict what to expect in the postseason.
"He’s one of those kids where if he wants to do a time, he’s going to do it," Taconic coach Marisa Plant said.
What Sommerville uses as a gauge is his own mind.
"Most of my swims are always based off my mental state," he said. "If I know I’m going to do it, I’ll most likely do it."
Using his past postseason times as a guide, it’s not far-fetched to suggest he’ll swim some personal bests. After all, he just swam one at the Berkshire County Individual meet on Saturday.
His 53.99 seconds in the 100 fly was the fastest he’s ever swam that event. The key change was wanting -- in his own mind -- to swim a 54. He verbalized it with Plant just before diving in and doing it.
He originally was planning on swimming the 50 free and 100 fly at Western Mass. on Sunday, and the 100 free and 100 breast at states. But that might have changed to him swimming the 50 free at states in place of the 100 free.
Considering his 50 free seed time of 22.19 is the fastest it’s been in the past three postseason races and his 100 free time is almost 1.5 seconds slower than it was at states in 2012, he might be able to accomplish the most with the 50 free.
Plant sure has high expectations.
"Sunday, I’m expecting that we’ll be at least top one, two," Plant said. "[I’m] hoping to head up that top of the podium" in both events.
To reach Josh Colligan:
or (413) 496-6297.
On Twitter: @EAG_DigitalJosh.
TALK TO US
If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.