Central's Coots plans to join Salukis swim team

Thursday, November 18, 2010
Coots (Caleb)

Central senior Caleb Coots' week keeps getting better.

Coots plans to sign to swim at Southern Illinois Carbondale less than a week after earning all-state honors at the state swimming meet.

"I'm extremely excited," he said. "I know that I've had a great swimming career so far. Getting to go into Division I, not only the level of competition I'll be in, it's awing. But also I'm getting the opportunity to better myself."

Coots looked at a few other schools but felt like SIU provided the best fit.

"I've gotten to swim in the Carbondale pool a lot with my club team and I've gotten to know a lot of the college swimmers there and their coach," he said. "I knew it was a good team, but I knew beforehand that I didn't want swimming to be my only reason I wanted to go there. I wanted to make sure that it was academically what I wanted too. After my visit there, it checked out."

Central's Caleb Coots plans to sign to swim at Southern Illinois Carbondale. (Southeast Missourian file photo)

Coots said SIU's academic offerings were as important as the swimming program. He said he'll likely major in plant biology and minor in microbiology and chemistry so he can help with his father's business, which is creating and selling organic fertilizers.

"Swimming is what I do, it's fun, but swimming is only going to be through college," Coots said. "When we went over there for our visit, coach Rick Walker talked with me about that. It's nice to know that he has those same views. He realizes that swimming isn't going to necessarily get us very far in life and that academics are going to be what's after school."

One of the benefits to joining the Salukis program was that it's less than an hour from Cape Girardeau.

"It's far enough from home that I get to feel like I'm on my own," he said. "My parents are close enough that I can get help, but it's far enough away that I'm on my own. But at the same time, any time I need to come home for any reason or family is in town, I'm only an hour away. I could be here for dinner and back in Carbondale before a night class. I'm very happy with the distance."

Coots earned a trip to the state meet in all four years of high school but failed to earn all-state honors until his senior year. He finished tied for seventh in the 100 butterfly in Saturday's championship race.

"It was four years of work that I'd put in, not only swimming with the high school team but swimming year-round that was fulfilled there," he said. "I was very happy with it. I couldn't of thought of a better way to end the season, especially with the records that came with those swims."

Coots broke Central's 11-year record in the 100 butterfly and owns four of the school's 10 fastest times in the event.

Coots also broke the school's 14-year record in the 200 individual medley.

"A lot of people train hard, but Caleb is really committed to the sport," Central coach Dayna Powell said. "He never complains about a hard workout. He never complains. When the water was freezing cold, he was in there. He just made the commitment to swim and that's where he put all his energy. It's so nice to see someone who makes that commitment and makes those personal sacrifices to have this success at the end."

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