Northridge's Lehman picks IU

Elkhart Truth photo/Russ DraperSpencer Lehman of Northridge swims to a 500-yard freestyle state title last February in Indianapolis. Lehman won by more than seven seconds at 4:25.60.

MIDDLEBURY — Spencer Lehman watched with plenty of interest this summer as three current or former Indiana University swimmers stood at the top of the podium as gold medal winners at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

So when it was time to commit to a college, the Northridge High School senior made the choice to attend IU and maybe set his sights on the 2020 Olympics in Tokoyo.

Lehman, the state champion in the 500-yard freestyle last winter in Indianapolis and second in the 200 individual medley, chose the Hoosiers over Wisconsin, Louisville and Auburn.

“I really liked the guys I met from Indiana when I made my visit and it’s also not too far from home so my family can see me swim,’’ Lehman said. “It’s obvious from the success at the Olympics that the Indiana coaches can really coach-up the athletes and that was another real key for me.’’

Indiana’s head coach, Ray Looze, was an assistant on the dominant U.S. team at the Olympics. Looze has told Lehman that he will be swimming the 400 individual medley, the 200 IM and the 200 backstroke when he arrives in Bloomington.

“Making a commitment definitely takes a huge load off my shoulders. I can concentrate on swimming and school the rest of the way now,’’ Lehman said. “It’s a great feeling and I’m very excited about my choice.’’

Northridge coach Joe Keller is also pleased.

“When I had the opportunity to talk to Coach Looze, he thought the timing would be perfect for Spencer to really have a shot at going to the 2020 games as he’s getting ready for his senior year,’’ Keller said. “It’s great that he’s staying fairly local, rather then the ACC or the Pac 12 or the SEC. Hopefully, we’ll be able to see him swim a few times.

“We really want to create options for all our athletes,” Keller added, “so we ask them each fall, ‘What is your Olympics?’ So whether it’s swimming in college like Spencer or reaching a sectional final, we work on helping them reach that goal. It’s tremendous to see Spencer get this chance, but I love it when any athlete achieves their goal.’’

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