WATER PISTOL

Throwing a football and kicking around a soccer ball appear to be no comparison for shivering in a tight Speedo at 5:30 a.m.

Boulder City Henderson Heatwave swimmer Zane Grothe belatedly contemplates why he never took up football or badminton when he stands on a chilly pool deck every Tuesday and Thursday morning for practice.

After sprinting more than 1,500 yards, the estimated equivalent of sloughing through eight National Football League fields, his almost 6-foot frame consumes completely organic fruits, veggies and whole grains for breakfast.

At 7:45 a.m., Boulder City High School awaits Grothe’s arrival so that it may educate and inform the junior about the world. When the end of school comes, it’s another exodus from Boulder City to the pool at Henderson’s Multigenerational Aquatic Complex.

Some call it extreme while others call it a legalized form of athletic slavery. Yet for the 17-year-old, this routine is merely a way of life.

“When you’re a swimmer, spring break isn’t really spring break,” he explains with a dismissive smile and wave of the hand. “It’s just a week that you can do more double practices on more days.”

While the 2008 USA Swimming Olympic Team Trials and other nationally ranked competitions nicked into his swim meet repertoire, his dedication and commitment have enabled him to swim next to three-time Olympic silver medalist Larson Jenson and two-time Olympic contender Eric Vendt.

An amalgam of coaches have trained Grothe since his induction into swimming at the age of 4, but BCH head coach Mike Polk has permanently trained Grothe for the past three years.

“As coaches, we tend to say that to perform X in a meet, you have to do Y in practice,” Polk says. “But with Zane, all those equations are thrown out the window. He can perform well at almost any time.”

In his limited amount of spare time, Grothe pursues another extracurricular interest: robotics. He and his father construct robots, programming them to pick up items and perform other simple tasks. They enter the familial creations into regional competitions.

Their most recent robot contended for first place in the 2009 For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology Robotics Competition. While they failed to secure a trophy, their robot conquered the competition to acquire the Rookie All-Star Award, propelling them to the Rookie All-Star competition in Atlanta.

A rigid practice schedule minimizes Grothe’s interactions with teens outside of his teammates. When eating his organically grown lunch, he sits with the “smart people and all the other kids that don’t have friends.”

Motivation for such tenacious commitment derives from a collegiate aspiration and an ultimate goal of the 2012 Summer Olympics. According to his official rank of fifth for an event in the 2008 USA Swimming Top 16, spectators from Nevada just might witness Grothe’s swimming across the screen in a pool in London.

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