Senior Quinn Williams ends highly successful swimming career

Mac O'Brien, Staff Writer

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Senior Quinn Williams started swimming when he was seven, around the same time as his older brother and sister, for a summer recreational league. It was fairly informal, focused primarily on introducing kids to swimming rather than serious training, but it was enough. Williams fell in love with the sport almost immediately. That summer recreational league would be the start to a long and successful swimming career involving consistent qualification for State meets and Sectionals. 

He started swimming more seriously the next winter, joining a club and starting to swim year-round. When he was 10, he set himself apart from the accomplishments of his siblings by qualifying for “All-Stars,” an elite swim team that competes in Lawrence, Kansas.  

“I started going to regional meets out of town and everything, you know, meets down in Oklahoma, Missouri, Sectionals and Championship meets, all these different meets, all over the place,” Williams said. 

He first qualified for the highly competitive Sectionals meet in the winter of 2016, in the 100 backstroke, and has returned every year since. He has also competed at State every year of high school in two individual events and two relays, the maximum number of events allowed. 

But his success didn’t come easily.  

“It gets to a point where you really have to enjoy it a lot to continue doing it… During the summer for club, you have to get up at five every morning and go jump in a cold pool outside for two hours every day of the week except for Sunday.” 

One of the things that has brought him back to swimming every year, Williams said, is the team-based nature of the sport. “No matter how you do, everyone will be supportive of you throughout the entire season.” 

This aspect of swimming is one that Williams feels is often overlooked. 

“It is a very mental sport, you have to be able to separate yourself from your team at times and just focus on what you need to do as a swimmer. But with that said, it is also 100 percent a team sport,” Williams said. “The energy you get from your team is reflected through how you swim and how you perform. Your motivation at practice and your motivation when you’re at a meet are reflected through your team.” 

According to Williams, this is clearest during big meets like State, when everyone is cheering on their teammates and supporting one another. He also believes that it is much more present on high school teams than in clubs. 

In high school, Williams said, “There’s already this bond between everyone on the team because you have these upperclassmen showing these lowerclassmen the ropes… Everyone respects each other and we still have a good time whereas with club, everyone kind of already has an understanding of what it means to be a leader, but nobody really wants to do it because people don’t want to listen to each other, because they already think they know everything about it.” 

Despite the more competitive atmosphere of club swimming, Williams found that its more individual nature made it “a little more difficult to be competitive and have this motivation to perform well.” 

As Williams moved into the latter half his high school swimming career, he started to assume the role of a leader on the team, acting as Varsity team captain for both his junior and senior year.  

“Being one of the faster swimmers on the team, along with some other club swimmers, I kind of have this obligation to lead by example,” Williams said, adding, “I’m happy to help out wherever I can. I write sets for practice sometimes, and you know, just make sure everyone is doing what they’re supposed to be.” 

He says that, although in some ways the leadership skills he’s learned from swimming are more conducive to the dynamic of a swim team than the dynamics of everyday life, some of the skills he’s learned, including focus and time management, have translated into the rest of his life.  

Although Williams doesn’t plan on continuing to swim in college, he is happy for these skills and for the relationships and opportunities swimming has given him. 

“After swimming for so long, it is kind of hard to take a step down after you’ve progressed all this way, but you have to really still be in love with it to keep doing it in college because it is even more time consuming than what it has been… I’m just not there right now so I’m choosing not to continue after high school,” Williams said. 

One of the opportunities he reflected on most fondly was his experience coaching kids on a summer league. 

“It’s been really great to kind of pass on what I’ve learned in all my years in swimming,” Williams said. “It’s given me a lot.” 

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