When Kamiren Sieman talked to Hubbard Athletic Director Chuck Montgomery, she was informed about upcoming freshman Alex Fox.
She quickly nodded in agreement during her interview to be the next Eagles swimming coach. It's not a good thing to disagree with a prospective employer.
Then, the freshman entered the water and showed he was well worth the hype. The distance swimmer, who specializes in the 200- and 500-yard freestyle events, has improved his times each and every meet.
"I said, 'OK,' " Sieman said. "He said, 'He's really good.' I was like, 'OK. OK.' A lot of people say someone is good, but swimming is a whole sport in itself. People don't realize how hard it is to work for it. When he got in the water, we saw glimpses of that. Once he really started racing, he started picking up some things like an arm stroke. He's been cutting time ever since, every 200 and every 500 and every time he gets in the pool. We love to see that."
Fox, who went through the rigors of USA Swimming, quickly realized competing at the varsity level was another, more grueling challenge.
"Varsity was harder. I think it is because in USA I was always trying to beat my best time," Fox said. "If I didn't win or gained time, it was all on me. On the varsity team, we all depend on each other. If I am tired after the 500, I still have to swim my fastest because I have three others depending on me for the (400 freestyle) relay. That is also why I love being on varsity."
Fox follows sophomore Robbie Dixon, who was a freshman standout in his own right, during the distance events.
"He's doing great this year. He's right behind me on the 500, which is pretty impressive I think," Dixon said. "I think he's going to get better than me, eventually. I try to lead him as much as I can."
Dixon is Hubbard's utility player, per se. The sophomore does the improbable, mixing the 200 and 500 with the 50 and 100 freestyle events. If he was a track competitor, it would be the equivalent of running the 100- and 200-meter dashes, along with the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs.
Dixon is not Billy Joel, but he'll be quick to show he goes to extremes.
"You kind of have to break your focus over the events and treat them as separate things," Dixon said. "You can't swim them both in the same way. You almost have to get into two different mindsets and break it in half midway through the meet between the two events."
Sieman said his versatility has proved to be invaluable for the Eagles.
"Whatever we can throw him in he does it and does it flawlessly, so that's great for us," she said.
The 400 freestyle relay, which made it to districts last year, returns three of its four. The only one missing is current Westminster College freshman and last year's state qualifier, Joey Spurio. Dixon, senior Spencer Ladig, a 50 and 100 freestyle racer, and sophomore Hunter Herzberger, a 100 breaststroke and 100 backstroke racer, return from last year's district-qualifying 400 relay team.
This year's team has clocked some fast times as well, setting them up for a possible return to the Division II district at Cleveland State.
"The first time we made them swim together was against Poland and Alliance," Sieman said. "After they got done swimming, Ashley and I looked at each other and realized this team is going to districts. We compared their times to last year and believe they dropped 2 seconds off their relay time from where they were at this point last year."
Ladig runs third on the relay. Dixon said Ladig is content to run third, while Dixon said he likes to anchor. Then, Fox and Herzberger take whatever spot is left.
"Spencer Ladig hates starting the relay, but he likes having the third-place spot just because it's a mental thing for him," Dixon said. "Alex and Hunter, they can be wherever. They either get us the lead or hold on to the lead. I'm the anchor. I like to finish off the race. It gives me a rush.
"It's one of the better ones we've had. I'm impressed with it, and I think we'll do pretty well."