Ebersole keeps kicking, advances to Zones

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 31, 2002

[07/31/02]The water ripples and parts, cresting over a rising form that suddenly submerges. All that remains is the ripple.

The figure below the water’s surface belongs to Alan Ebersole, a swimmer, and Vicksburg’s representative in this week’s Southern Zone Championships in San Antonio, Texas.

“It’s nice to see one of our swimmers get to this level,” said coach Brad Radford of the Vicksburg Swim Association. “It helps to motivate the team.”

The St. Aloysius senior won the state title last fall in the 200-meter breaststroke and qualified for both the 100 (with a time of 1:12:12) and 200 (2:38:49) meter breaststroke in the Southern Zone Championships. Ebersole will also swim on the 200 medley and freestyle relays.

“I feel like I got a pretty good chance,” Ebersole said. “I trained specifically for this meet.”

But his competition in the Southern Zone Championships will come from a much larger pool. Ebersole will be facing competition from nine states across the southeast.

“It’s hard conditions to swim in, but I have to stay focused and know that I came here to swim,” he said.

It’s a good thing that Ebersole has a leg up on his competition. When most 6-year-old kids were kicking in their floaties, Ebersole was swimming laps.

“Both my parents swam when they were little, and my mom had four brothers and sisters, and they all swam,” Ebersole said. “Their family is real big in swimming. Everybody in swimming knows who my mom is and who her family is.

“It’s just a natural sport for me to be into.”

It takes qualifying times to make the Southern Zone swim team and it’s only natural that Ebersole has had one of the top five times in Mississippi since joining the team four years ago.

So it’s no surprise that Ebersole is now one of the top 10 breaststrokers in the southeast.

What may be a surprise is that the story almost never happened. Ebersole had thought of pulling himself out of the water for good.

“Last summer was kind of hectic, and in one way because I lost focus,” Ebersole said. “I’ve been doing it for 10 years, which is a long time to do something everyday in the summer. Everybody else sleeps late and does whatever they want to do, and I get to get up early and swim.”

Like any high school kid, Ebersole had other things that pulled at him other than the ripples of City Pool. Even though he had qualified for the Southern Zone Championships last year, Ebersole chose not to participate.

“I’d play soccer before, right now I play basketball for my high school, just to get a little break from swimming every once in a while,” Ebersole said. “I used to play football some, but it always comes back to swimming. It’s a year-round thing.”

Which is why Ebersole couldn’t stay out of the water long. Swimming was not only a big part of Ebersole’s past, but his future.

“Last fall I sat down after my high school season, which went really well, and thought about it and decided that I really wanted to swim in college,” he said. “So this whole summer, and next year, is focused on me getting into college to swim.”