Recent DeMatha Catholic High School graduate Trevor Irish is busy swimming 5,000 to 6,000 yards a day, but that doesn't mean he has no time to soak in the Olympics and learn from the best swimmers in the world.
“I watch swimming in the Olympics every four years, I can't get enough of it,” said Irish, 17. “I definitely learn a lot from it. Just the way they swim under water, the way they hold their breath and everything they do, it puts what you do in perspective. It just makes you look at yourself be like 'What can I do to be like that?'”
While the future East Carolina University Pirate takes in all of this swimming, he keeps an extra close eye on one American in particular.
“I try to model myself after Ryan Lochte,” said Irish. “Seeing him train, it's just crazy. When he was a freshman in college, I read that he almost got cut because he was too slow so he built up, got back in the pool and became one of the top swimmers in the world. Seeing that to me means that anyone can do it.”
Just a few years ago, Irish had a setback that could have hampered his future in swimming.
“When Trevor was 15, he had a pretty bad shoulder injury and he was out for the season,” said Patrick Sheerin, who grew up with Irish and has been a longtime teammate. “But he came back from that and was just as good if not better than he was before. A lot of times that affects swimmers in a bad way and they don't come back as good.”
Sheerin, a rising senior at DeMatha, said a big reason Irish was able to bounce back is his work ethic.
“He's always training hard,” Sheerin said. “He's really a hard worker.”
Maintaining that work ethic is something that's important to Irish. Without that, he said, swimming can become pointless and meaningless.
“You have to be motivated in swimming,” Irish said. “If you don't have a goal and something to strive for you just lose it. You're like, 'Why am I doing this?' So I always have a constant goal in my mind that I want to accomplish.”
As he gets ready for college this fall, Irish has a few goals. In four years, Irish dreams of getting an up-close-and-personal look at the Olympics.
“I'm definitely trying to make the NCAA Championship meets in college and anything past that is a dream,” said Irish. “The Olympic Trials in 2016, I'm definitely trying to make that too.”
A two-time All-Gazette first team selection, Irish finished the summer season on Saturday by winning the boys 15-18 50-meter butterfly and 100 freestyle at the Prince-Mont Swim League All-Star meet. He also took third in the 50 backstroke and was part of the second-place 200 medley relay for New Carrollton Recreation.
A significant factor that will determine Irish's 2016 Olympic prospects is how much he's able to improve in college, and he's looking to get a quick head start as soon as he steps on campus.
“I've definitely already started to work out more and add more strength,” he said. “I just want to get ready for the next level of competition. I like being the little guy [as a freshman] and looking up to the sophomores, juniors and seniors and trying to get to that level. When I see people swim faster than me, it makes me want to train harder so I can beat them.”
In the end, what makes Irish the happiest is the fact that he's the one who determines how far he'll make it. He's the one and only person who controls his own destiny.
“I love swimming because it's all up to me,” said Irish. “In soccer, you have a team and a goalie can let a goal in that wasn't your fault. In swimming, it's all you. You practice and you train for yourself. I wouldn't pick any other sport if I could.”