At the high-school level, guys that grow up playing football and basketball rarely give it all up to try their luck at competitive swimming.
In the case of Cameron Beauregard, there wasn’t much choice.
Manhattan High’s top swimmer this season, who alongside six of his teammates, will travel to Topeka’s Capitol Federal Natatorium for the Class 6A state swim meet over the weekend, grew up with a natural athletic ability.
But an eye injury in middle school forced him to give up the contact sports he grew up playing. By the time he got to high school, some friends convinced him to give swimming a try.
“A couple kids freshman year convinced me to try swimming,” Beauregard said. “And I fell in love with it and started swimming year round.”
The senior said it was hard to let go of contact sports, but the opportunity to swim collegiately at Kalamazoo College in Kalamazoo, Mich., makes it all worth it.
“It was at first, but where I’m at now, being able to swim in college and everything, this is where I’m happy,” he said.
In the case of many standout swimmers, instruction begins early in life and by the time the athletes reach high school, they’re seasoned swimmers. Beauregard had to start from scratch as a freshman.
“There was a big learning curve,” he said. “There was some natural ability, a little bit, and freshman year, people were telling me I was fast, so I thought that was awesome. But when I started to look at people who were actually fast, I had to step it up and work really hard to get here where I am now.”
Not only did Beauregard have to adjust to learning new techniques and proper form, he also had to adjust to a lack of oxygen that isn’t an issue in football and basketball.
“The hardest part about it was not being able to breathe,” Beauregard said. “Swimming is so difficult in that sense, and it’s something that’s not like any other sport. It’s a huge mental challenge as well, and a lot of technique goes into it - a lot more than people think. So once I started getting the technique part of it, I started swimming a lot faster.”
In addition to swimming in two relays for the Indians, Beauregard will also compete at state as an individual in the 200 individual medley and the 100 breast. The senior’s time in the 100 breast is seeded ninth, giving him a chance to swim in the finals on Saturday if he can beat one more guy and finish in the top eight.
Beauregard credited his swim club, the Manhattan Marlins, as well as coach Rob Putnam for helping him get to the high level he’s at competitively.
“This past summer, we kind of realized that I’m capable of swimming with those fast guys, so that’s what I was focused on all through the summer and I put in a lot of hard work,” he said. “I started swimming more often, and even started swimming two-a-days.”
Manhattan High head coach Jerry Carpenter said Beauregard’s leadership has been solid all year.
“I think Cam has been one of the strongest leaders we’ve had in quite some time,” Carpenter said. “He’s very much a leader by example — he works his tail off everyday. He’s not one of those guys that just talks the talk, he puts in the work, too.”
Carpenter also praised his senior’s work ethic.
“Cam’s just a really focused kid,” he said. “He’s a good athlete, he’s not afraid to work. He’s got sort of an old-school mentality - he just does the work and isn’t afraid to get after it. He’s coachable, and he’s worked hard.”