Making his splash: Record-breaking swimmer plans to continue swim career in college, aims to win at the State Championship

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Photo by Bailey Outlaw

Kelly Cordingley, Editor in Chief

Years from now he could stand, grinning ear-to-ear in front of hundreds of cameras, on the most glorified stage possible — the Olympic stage. Decked out in medals and a Speedo, he might wave to his fans back home, maybe even remembering his high school swim team back at Blue Valley.
Not Olympic swimmers Michael Phelps or Ryan Lochte, but BV swim captain senior Chris Hearl.
Hearl said, at the moment, competing in the Olympics is a goal of his.
“If I get good enough, my dream would be to go to the Olympics,” Hearl said. “I’m not going to say it’s never going to happen. I’m looking forward to swimming in college — maybe some conference championships.”
Currently, Hearl is being scouted by Louisiana State University, Notre Dame University and Texas Christian University, all of whom are offering scholarships, though the amounts are not certain.
Hearl swims sprint races — backstroke, butterfly and freestyle. He has contributed to setting the school record in the 200 Medley relay with 1:39.27, the 200 Freestyle relay with 1:28.67, the 400 Freestyle relay with 3:15.05. He personally set the records for the 100 But- terfly with 49.86 and the 100 Backstroke with 50.30.
He is also a two-time State champion — something both he and swim coach Adam Bien said they hope to accomplish again this year.
“His times in the 5A State Championship would have been State Champion in 6A as well,” Bien said. “So we hope to get him to be a double State Champion in 6A this year.”
As far as Hearl’s future success, Bien said the possibilities are endless.
“The sky’s the limit for [Hearl],” Bien said. “Some of the things we’ve seen him do, I’ve never seen a high school swimmer do, just the times that he’s had.”
Due to the work Hearl has put in, Bien said he has high hopes for Hearl’s future.
“After high school, since he’s spent so much time, if he wants to continue with swimming, I think he’s going to be able to really excel,” Bien said. “He’s going to get scholarship offers to a bunch of different schools — good schools — whatever makes him happy. At the next level, he could be very competitive in NCAA swimming. I’d like to see him out there.”
Bien said Hearl is unlike many athletes he has coached in the mentality he brings to the pool.
“He’s able to make changes daily when we need to work on specific things,” Bien said. “He’s one of those swimmers where he, obviously, being a two-time State champ, knows what he’s doing. But, at the same time, he’s open to listen to coach’s suggestions and always wants to get better each and every day.”
Hearl practices and competes with his club team as well as competing with the high school team.
“The practice at my club is a lot higher competitiveness,” Hearl said. “[BV’s swim team] wants me to swim with them, obviously, but both the practices are at the same time, so I have to make a choice.”
Bien said Hearl being on two teams initially worried him, but Hearl has balanced his time in a way so he doesn’t miss out on too much.
“I kind of share him with his club coach,” Bien said. “In past, other coaches have had problems with that struggle between high school swimming and club swimming. I think [Hearl] has made this transition of being able to do both and not miss out on anything with either team. He’s always there with our high school team, even if he’s practicing with his club team.”
Bien said Hearl is an exceptional athlete to coach, partially due to the way he leads.
“He’s a great role model for our younger guys to see what it takes to be an elite swimmer in the Metro,” Bien said. “He is kind of a quiet guy. He’s much more of a leader by leading by example. Just by doing things the right way each and every day the kids can see what makes him successful and try and emulate that.”
This season, Hearl said the team has the potential to do well.
“The season’s been going pretty well,” he said. “We’ve all been working really hard.
I think we’re going to swim really fast. I’m looking to maybe break some more school records and definitely the two State records I was close to [last year].”
In last year’s State tournament, Hearl’s personal time during his men’s 4×100 Freestyle relay would have broken a 1988 record set by former BV swimmer Walter Denton in the men’s 100 Freestyle.
“I swam in high school, too, and I never thought that time could be touched,” Bien said.
Due to the rigorous practice schedule swimming demands, Hearl said he has to sacrifice certain aspects of his social life.
“It’s tough,” Hearl said. “There’s a lot of time management and social sacrifices I have to make, making sure I keep everything in order. Sometimes I need to take a step back and make sure I’m keeping everything up.”
Bien said he has seen Hearl be able to balance a social life as well as maintain an elite swimmer’s schedule.
“His social life, a lot of it, is related around his club swimmers, and I know they’re pretty active,” Bien said. “Sometimes you’ll see really elite swimmers not be able to have that social life, but I think [Hearl] balances it great. I think he has a great time every day, especially from seeing some activities at football games.”
Hearl attributes part of his success to his support system.
“My family and teammates, they all support me,” Hearl said. “They’re really understanding of everything.”
Bien said coaching Hearl over the years has been a positive experience.
“[Hearl] is an easy guy to coach, he’s got a work ethic unlike many high school athletes I’ve seen,” Bien said. “He is a great kid to coach, his family is very involved, and he has a brother as a freshman this year. Hopefully, if he can have just a bit of what Chris rubs off on his brother, I think we can have some good years to come with the Hearls.”