Grothe excited to lead Boulder City

Zane Grothe hasn’t grown tired of his two-hour practice sessions beginning at 4:30 a.m. each school day.

Nor does the Boulder City senior swimmer mind the weekend meets and summer club events dominating his schedule. For Grothe, swimming is a lifestyle as much as a sport.

"My entire life is centered around swimming," Grothe said. "Everything I schedule, whether it’s to hang out with friends, homework, projects; everything is around my swim schedule. I’ve grown up my whole life doing it that way. I’m used to it, and I like it."

That work ethic has netted Grothe a long list of accomplishments, including last year’s Sunrise Region Swimmer of the Year award and a scholarship to eight-time national champion Auburn.

"A lot of the kids are in awe of him, but he’s just a down-to-earth kid," Boulder City coach Sara Carroll said.

Though Boulder City is a Class 3A school, the Eagles compete against larger 4A schools in the state’s only classification. It’s been no deterrent for a boys program that won last season’s Sunrise championship and has captured three state titles since 2002.

Heading into its showdown against Green Valley on Saturday, Boulder City hasn’t lost a dual meet over the past nine years. It’s a streak Grothe is determined to keep intact.

"We’ve got a real strong team this year, probably the strongest since I’ve been in high school," he said. "I’m excited to be a leader."

Grothe won Sunrise titles last season in the 100-yard butterfly (50.58 seconds) and 500 freestyle (4:30.86). His time of 49.92 in the 100 butterfly preliminaries set a region record. He finished second in the event at last year’s state meet.

Grothe, however, said his "forte" is in the 1,000- and 1,650-meter freestyles on the club circuit, which offers more events than high school competition.

As a member of the Boulder City-Henderson Heatwave club team, he won the 1,650 free in 15:11.89 at the Southern California Swimming Grand Prix in Long Beach, Calif., in January.

"Probably his best events aren’t high school events," Carroll said. "In that respect, I feel bad for him. High school’s not the best showcase for his talent. That said, he’s still a pretty versatile swimmer."

Also at the Southern California Swimming Grand Prix, Grothe took third in the 500-yard free in 4:24.51. He was less than six seconds behind the event’s winner: Michael Phelps.

"I’ve seen him there before but never been in contention for a medal and on the podium with him," Grothe said of Phelps, who won eight gold medals at the 2008 Olympics. "It’s not every day you get to swim against the greatest swimmer of all time.

"That motivated me. It was every intention of mine to get third so I could get on that podium. It drove me, and I made it."

Heatwave coach Mike Polk said Grothe has made great strides in recent years improving his approach when coming off a lackluster event.

"One of the things he’s gotten really good at is being able to have a poor swim and turn around and have a good performance right after that," Polk said. "We’ve worked the past couple years on putting the last race behind him, whether it’s good or bad."

Contact reporter Tristan Aird at taird@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203.

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