EAHS’ Hutchinson, Parkview’s Miller take different paths to success
For East Ascension High’s Mason Hutchinson and Parkview Baptist’s John Miller, swimming is more than just a high school niche.
The two juniors have different strengths and have taken decidedly different routes to swimming. It’s the journey, which includes the fall high school season, that Hutchinson and Miller relish.
“I came out for the swim team when I was in seventh grade,” Miller said. “I’d stopped playing another sport and wasn’t sure what I was going to do.
“I didn’t know what to expect. No one in my family ever swam competitively, so it was a surprise when I started doing well.”
Before becoming a swimmer, Miller tried a variety of other sports, including basketball, soccer and football. Swimming was always a part of Hutchinson’s life.
“I took swim lessons when I was three and by the time I was five I was on a summer-league swim team,” Hutchinson said. “I played other sports, but I was always more comfortable in the water.
“So when I was 10, I told my parents swimming was the only thing I wanted to do. I may get physically tired, but I don’t ever get tired of it. Swimming is my life.”
Within a year of getting involved with swimming, Miller’s prowess as a distance freestyle competitor emerged. He has enjoyed success for Parkview. Last fall, Miller won the Division III 500-yard freestyle and placed second in the 200 freestyle.
Hutchinson’s best event is the 200 butterfly, something that is not a high school event. Last season, he placed 10th in the 200-yard individual medley and the 100 butterfly at the highly competitive Division I meet.
In addition to competing for their high school teams, Miller and Hutchinson also compete for one of Baton Rouge’s two year-round United States Swimming programs, Crawfish Aquatics. LSU-based Tiger Aquatics is the area’s other large U.S.S. program.
Many local high school teams include a mixture of year-round U.S.S. swimmers and competitors who race strictly for their high schools. It’s a combination Hutchinson and Miller like.
“A lot of U.S.S. swimmers compete for their high schools,” Miller said. “We race each other all year, but you’ve got swimmers divided up between several schools, not just two teams. You have some high school swimmers who are really competitive, too. I think we all have fun with it.”
The duo illustrated that point at Saturday’s Capital City Swim League meet. Miller won the 200 individual medley in 2:08.44 and edged Hutchinson to win the 500 freestyle in 4:48.98.
In addition to the 500 (4:49.21), Hutchinson battled Denham Springs’ Brady Coleman (1:06.73) and garnered a second place in the 100 breaststroke.
“I enjoy racing,” Hutchinson said.
Hutchinson and Miller maintain near 4.0 grade-point averages and aspire to swim on the college level. Each has specific goals for the fall high school season. Miller’s goals include an All-American time in the 500 freestyle. Hutchinson wants top-eight finishes in his events at the LHSAA state meet.
Fulfilling a leadership role for their high schools is also important for both juniors.
Miller is part of a 14-member Parkview team that includes four boys. EAHS has a 27-member squad that is dominated by freshmen and has seven boys.
“John’s work ethic helped him get as far as he has in a short period of time,” Parkview coach Kate Ripple Cramer said. “Sometimes, you have to be careful to make sure he doesn’t push himself too hard. He leads more by example, than by being vocal. With just four boys, John understands we’re relying on him. He’s been leading off our relays. He knows it’s his job to push the other swimmers.”
East Ascension coach Collin Ford said his only regret is that Hutchinson’s academic course load prevents him from taking part in an athletic physical education class the Spartans use as a practice period.
“Because of his practice schedule, a lot of freshmen didn’t meet Mason until we had our first meet,” Ford said. “I’m fortunate to have three year-round swimmers who really help me, and he’s one of them.
“Before the meet, I told them (EAHS team) they needed to watch Mason. I told them that’s what swimming is supposed to look like. If they follow his example to a small degree, they’ve got a chance to do well.”