Warren Melton realized a goal last winter when he swam under the state cut in the 200-yard freestyle at the United Township Sectional.
A week later the then junior at Newman competed in the state meet for the first time, finishing 26th in the preliminaries with a time of 1 minute, 44.04 seconds. That was just under 3 seconds behind the last qualifier for the finals.
Getting to state was his goal a year ago, and now, a year later as a senior, he has hopes of going a little faster.
He set about accomplishing that goal by hanging out with some of the best during the offseason. Melton spent the spring training and lifting weights with Dixon graduate and former standout for the Byron co-op Aaron Helander.
He then also worked with the likes of Sterling graduate Keanu Interone, former Byron star Jackson Halsmer and Sterling captain Keaton Dir during the Sterling Stingray club season.
"With guys like Keanu, Aaron and Jackson, they are all a year older so they've had that time to develop and get faster," Melton said. "When you get to work with them, it makes you want to do things at their speed. It's always better to practice with swimmers that are fast."
Melton takes that bit of wisdom to heart. It's also something that Newman coach Gary Miller uses during practice.
He has the senior skip around lanes during practice that way more of his teammates get used to swimming at his speed.
"Warren is a great leader," Miller said. "He has a great attitude, and he's all about trying to do what is best for the team. He's in there swimming in the younger kids lanes to encourage them to get better. He and Jakob Vetter [a senior] both do a lot to try and make the program better."
Melton and Miller not only have individual goals for the senior this season, but also hope he can team with three of his teammates to form a sectional-medaling relay team.
"I think we can do it," Melton said. "We have someone like Robbie Hicks, who was a really nice sprinter last season. There are also a couple freshmen like Aiden Bollman and Zachary Brauman who look like they could be really good. It's so important to get the young guys out."
The Comets have a 11 swimmers on the roster and seven of them are seniors.
"We have lots of senior leaders," Miller said. "We just need to get out into the school and recruit some of the younger kids and make them realize that swimming is fun."
Like his training mates in the summer, Melton hopes that his swimming career continues after this school year. Helander is at Oakland University. Interone is at the University of Utah. Halsmer is an Iowa Hawkeye.
Melton hasn't made any decisions yet, but he wants to go to a catholic university where he plans to double major in psychology and theology.
"I started getting interested in theology when I was in middle school," Melton said. "I knew that was something that I wanted to study. In high school, I really liked the psychology courses that I took. I just feel that the two major would complement each other."