Joel Conrad of Mount Gilead traveled to Canton on Thursday to compete in the OHSAA Division II State Swimming tournament. The meet was held at the CT Branin Natatorium at Canton McKinley High School.
Swimmers were permitted to have one spectator purchase a ticket to the meet, so Joel’s mother Robin Conrad, art teacher at Park Avenue Elementary, was able to accompany him and coach Dina Snow to the tournament.
“It was a beautiful day to drive to Canton and cheer Joel on. I am very proud of him for working so hard for this rare achievement. He sought out extra training when our outdoor pool did not open last summer, and he has not shied away from the additional yardage and extra workouts that he was able to get with other swimmers at Galion and Colonel Crawford,” said Snow.
“I think it is safe to say that nearly all the swimmers competing at the tournament are part of elite club teams or attend private schools that have programs to rival most colleges,” continued Snow. “Without a pool of our own in Mount Gilead, the swimmers can’t get the hours in the water and extra time weightlifting that this level of competition requires. Joel has gone the extra mile to seek out the extra workout time, but he does practice with his MG teammates regularly and often coaches and encourages our newer swimmers.”
Conrad competed in the 50 freestyle and finished 20th out of 24. In many sports, this would earn him All-Ohio honors, so Snow is hoping to find out if that is true for swimming as well.
“We thank MGHS principal Deb Clauss for organizing a sendoff for Joel before the meet,” said Snow. “For many years, the community has been able to celebrate the cross country team’s advancement to the state meet. While the weather didn’t really allow for folks to line the streets for a sendoff, it was fun to have the band and cheerleaders lead a procession through the halls of the high school. It was a great display of school spirit, and we appreciated the students that came out of their rooms to cheer Joel on!”
Information received from Dina Snow.