December 24, 2009
TAMMY SWANSON - [email protected]
Kaneland junior Grant Alef competes in the 100-yard backstroke and the 500 freestyle. Last year at the state meet, Alef took 14th place in the 100 backstroke with a time of 52.57. He came in 15th place in the 500 freestyle with a time of 4:39.36. (Rob Winner – [email protected]) Grant Alef will spend most of his Christmas break in a pool at the Kishwaukee YMCA in DeKalb. Why would this week be any different? This Kaneland junior is a member of the DeKalb County Swim Team (DCST), and his focus is on dual meets in January, big events in February and beyond. "We practice for two hours and 15 minutes every day, six days a week," Alef said. "Chlorine has become a staple in my life." Alef started swimming at the age of 5 after seeing his sister compete and do well. He began swimming with DCST, met with great success and still loves it. He can think of no other place he would rather be than competing in a swim event. His events include the 100-yard backstroke and the 500 freestyle. "I currently have a 52 in my 100 backstroke and I'd like to get that down below 52, 51 or 50," he said. "My 500 free, I'm currently at a 4:39 and I'd like to get that down, too." He will swim in dual meets with his club, DCST, until the IHSA sectional and state meets. Alef has qualified for the past two IHSA state meets. Because Kaneland does not have a full-time coach or swim team, an official representative will accompany him for the Knights as IHSA rules stipulate. Last year at the state meet, Alef took 14th place in the 100 backstroke with a time of 52.57. He came in 15th place in the 500 freestyle with a time of 4:39.36. "I want to improve my times," he said. "My goal for both [events] is top six." Most of his training for competition does not involve much land activities. Alef follows no special diets or weight-training programs. "My training is all in the water," Alef said. "I don't do any weightlifting. We do circuit training two times a week." With all of this time in the water, it is no surprise it is a challenge to keep it from getting mundane. "I do get bored," he said. "When you're busy staring at the black line on the bottom of the pool, I sing just about every song I know just in my head." Alef sees his future filled with swimming. He hopes to swim on a college team and compete in the Olympic trials. Ultimately, he desires to make the Olympics. So far, one of the most exciting events Alef qualified for is the Missouri Grand Prix in February. It is sponsored by USA Swimming. Elite swimmers like Michael Phelps have participated in the event. "It's exciting because it's an international meet," he said. "Last year, Ryan Lochte and Garrett Weber-Gale were there. I actually swam my 100 backstroke two lanes away from Garrett Weber-Gale. It's kind of intimidating. You stand in awe of the guy next to you."