When you’re as good as Arthur Conover, the expectations are always getting higher. Fortunately, Conover loves pressure.

“I think that it’s pressure, but I think that it’s a good sort of pressure,” Conover said. “It’s pressure that feeds itself, and allows me to meet those expectations.”

Conover, a junior at Messalonskee, met just about every expectation in the swimming pool this winter. He improved all of his times from his sophomore season, to the point where he now holds every individual school record but one. He won a state title and came within a blink of another. Even after the season was over, he set two new state records for his age group.

For his outstanding season, Conover has been named the Morning Sentinel Boys Swimmer of the Year. Waterville’s Adrian Rivas was also considered.

Messalonskee coach Tom Sheridan said Conover lost only two races during the season, one of which was in an exhibition match against a school from western Massachusetts.

“He was pretty much unstoppable all year,” Sheridan said.

In addition to swimming for the Eagles, Conover swims for the Mid-Maine Dolphins, and is in the school’s jazz band. He also made high honors with distinction in the second quarter.

“He’s an extremely driven young man,” Sheridan said. “How he has time to do everything he does — I wonder if the kid actually sleeps.”

Coming into this season, Conover simply wanted to improve, but Sheridan was hoping Conover would take another step forward as a leader. Both got what they were looking for.

“He was excellent,” Sheridan said. “I’m not a big believer in the silent kid (leading) by example. But he helped out other kids on the team. He did what I asked him to do, and he expected the other kids to do the same.”

After a solid regular season, Conover won the 200-yard freestyle and the 500 free at the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A meet. At the state meet, Conover won the 500 free by a whopping 28 seconds, but lost the 200 individual medley by six-hundredths of a second, to Trebor Lawton of Cheverus.

“I think that there were parts of each race that I wish I could have tweaked a tiny bit,” Conover said. “But they were both really good swims, and I was happy with both of them.”

This weekend, Conover swam at the Maine Swimming Inc. Winter Combined Championships. He broke a 13-year-old state record in the 1,000 free, and a 10-year-old record in the 1,650 free. Neither of those distances are part of high school races.

“I’m the sort of swimmer — the longer the event, the better,” Conover said. “I really haven’t found a race that was too long yet.”

Conover has been thinking about his future in swimming, and is currently leaning toward a Division I university. As for his senior year, he’ll keep chasing increased expectations.

“The thing with Arthur, he competes with himself,” Sheridan said. “He wants to be swimmer of the year next year. He wants to be the KVAC swimmer of the meet. He wants to set some state records. That’s the thing about swimming — you can always compete with yourself and the clock.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]

 


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