ELKHART — Elkhart Central's Lucas Byrd doesn't appear to be your normal freshman high school swimmer.
In his high school debut Monday against Elkhart Memorial at the new Elkhart Health and Aquatics Center, he won two individual events (100 freestyle and 200 medley relay) and was part of two relays (400 free and 200 medley) that came away with first place times.
That showing helped the Blue Blazers beat the Crimson Chargers, 149-29, in the boys meet. Central also won the girls meet, 135-50.
"I just wanted to do my best and try to win," said Byrd. "I have a lot of respect for Elkhart Memorial. They've got good swimmers. Coach just put me into events that I'm really strong in."
Along with talent, Byrd showed off some endurance when he swam the anchor leg of the 400-yard freestyle relay, which was the last event of the evening.
"You've just got to bring it home and give it all you have and try to win," Byrd said. "Our relays are pretty solid. We expected to win those."
Byrd flashed some of his potential last winter for USA Swimming when he won a state title in the 100-yard breaststroke for his 14-year old age group.
"He's a very talented kid," said Elkhart Central swim coach Michelle Guipe. "He's just an all-around good kid and hard worker, who's coachable. He's going to do some pretty amazing things for Elkhart over the next couple of years."
Guipe gave some background on why she thinks Byrd has flourished at an early age in the water.
"I think he has had a really good background of being a multi-sport athlete growing up and becoming extremely athletic," Guipe said. "Last year, he decided to really focus on swimming. He made that commitment and we've seen massive improvement.
"He wants to come to every optional practice. He gets mad if he misses one. The things he does are going to make him a great athlete long-term. Being 6-foot-2 doesn't hurt him either."
Other swimmers that stood out for the Blue Blazers in the boys meet were four-time winners Eric Kelm (50 free, 100 backstroke, 200 free relay, 200 medley relay) and David Welles (100 breaststroke, 400 free relay, 200 medley relay, 100 butterfly), along with three-time winner Logan Davis (200 free, 500 free, 400 free relay).
"We've done some good things with Eric Kelm's backstroke over the summer," Guipe said. "He's our school record holder in that event. He got second at the sectionals in the backstroke and won the 100 butterfly. He looked pretty phenomenal tonight, so I'm really excited to see what the rest of his year holds.
"In general, with how much training we've done, our kids look pretty good. But, we're still rough, and we have a lot of work to do."
In the girls meet, Central was led by four-time winner Ava Frick, who won twice individually (500 free, 200 individual medley) and twice in relays (200 free relay, 400 free relay).
Three-time winners were Natalie Khamkheuang (50 free, 200 free relay, 200 medley relay), Ellie Malloy (200 free, 400 free relay, 200 medley relay) and Khanya Butler (100 free, 100 breaststroke, 200 free relay).
Elkhart Memorial's lone first place performer was sophomore Rachel Terrell, who came away with best times in the 100 backstroke and 100 butterfly.
Last year at the sectional, Terrell, finished second in the 100 backstroke and third in the butterfly.
"She's a good leader," said Memorial coach Heather Martin about Terrell. "She's great with everybody and cheers everybody on. Rachel won two individual races at the conference meet last year and she'll do fantastic for us again this year."
Guipe and Martin are upbeat about the future of high school swimming in Elkhart, while Byrd wasn't as excited about the combining of the two high schools.
"I think we're in a really good place," Guipe said about the merger. "The kids at Elkhart Memorial and Elkhart Central see each other every day. We train with each other in the summer time. They get along really well. These kids have grown up swimming together through Elkhart United Aquatics, which is our club for Elkhart. This (merging) seems really natural and seems like it is the right move for swimming. We're used to big sizes for swim teams, especially for the girls, so adding some more isn't going to make or break anything. We're ready for that next chapter."
"We're all excited for bigger and better things next year coming as one," Martin said. "We're just kind of having fun with this season and getting ready for next year."
"It's going to happen, but I really would like to have more meets like (tonight) because it's a lot of fun," Byrd said.
ELKHART CENTRAL 149, ELKHART MEMORIAL 29
50 freestyle: Eric Kelm (EC) 22.33, Devin Brink (EC) 24.48, Chrisitan Batie (EC) 25.29. 100 freestyle: Lucas Byrd (EC) 48.04, Nathan Byrd (EC) 54.10, Devin Brink (EC) 56.10. 200 freestyle: Logan Davis (EC) 2:05.06, Michael Huang (EC) 2:07.02, Eric Calderon (EM) 2:16.21. 500 freestyle: Logan Davis (EC) 5:50.05, Michael Huang (EC) 6:04.54, Bryson Flores (EM) 6:36.81. 100 backstroke: Eric Kelm (EC) 55.92, Christian Batie (EC) 1:05.77, Bryson Flores (EM) 1:16.41. 100 breaststroke: David Welles (EC) 1:06.18, Nathan Byrd (EC) 1:10.07, Austin Hashberger (EM) 1:19.94.
100 butterfly: David Welles (EC) 58.37, Cohen Jones (EC) 1:03.17, Clayton Corvin (EC) 1:05.11. 200 individual medley: Lucas Byrd (EC) 2:04.87, Cohen Jones (EC) 2:24.33, Clayton Corvin (EC) 2:31.77. Diving: Henry Gatzemeyer (EC) 239.50, Nick Hardy (EC) 210.25, Carter Hazzard (EC) 182.15. 200 freestyle relay: Central (Devin Brink, Christian Batie, Nathan Byrd, Eric Kelm) 1:38.99; Central 1:46.13. 400 freestyle relay: Central (Logan Davis, Nathan Byrd, David Welles, Lucas Byrd) 3:38.34; Central 4:00.10. 200 medley relay: Central (Eric Kelm, Lucas Byrd, David Welles, Devin Brink) 1:42.91; Central 1:54.19.
ELKHART CENTRAL 135, ELKHART MEMORIAL 50
50 freestyle: Natalie Khamkheuang (EC) 27.28, Rhea Kunder (EC) 28.31, Maria LaRocca (EC) 28.75. 100 freestyle: Khanya Butler (EC) 59.14, Natalie Khamkheuang (EC) 1:01.61, Rhea Kunder (EC) 1:05.42. 200 freestyle: Ellie Malloy (EC) 2:10.54, Emily Davis (EC) 2:20.73, Brianna Kramer (EM) 2:20.84. 500 freestyle: Ava Frick (EC) 5:41.25, Emily Davis (EC) 6:25.26, Brisa Caceres (EC) 7:38.21. 100 backstroke: Rachel Terrell (EM) 1:00.05, Ellie Malloy (EC) 1:03.92, Raina Kunder (EC) 1:13.71. 100 breaststroke: Khanya Butler (EC) 1:18.05, Lilly Grove (EC) 1:21.38, Brianna Kramer (EM) 1:25.45.
100 butterfly: Rachel Terrell (EM) 1:01.42, Maria LaRocca (EC) 1:09.81, Raina Kunder (EC) 1:18.13. 200 individual medley: Ava Frick (EC) 2:26.70, Lilly Grove (EC) 2:33.16, Isabell Surber (EM) 2:38.39. Diving: Irie Roll (EC) 228.40, Ava Kaiser (EC) 174.15, Savannah Tully (EC) 139.55. 200 freestyle relay: Central (Lilly Grove, Natalie Khamkheuang, Khanya Butler, Ava Frick) 1:52.93; Central 2:10.20. 400 freestyle relay: Central (Maria LaRocca, Raina Kunder, Ava Frick, Ellie Malloy) 4:17.83; Memorial 4:25.57. 200 medley relay: Central (Ellie Malloy, Lilly Grove, Maria LaRocca, Natalie Khamkheuang) 2:05.89; Memorial 2:11.97.