John Reisert admits he may have tested the waters of the grueling 500-yard freestyle for the wrong reason. His older sister Margaret excelled in the event so he wanted to prove his own worth.

“Being an obnoxious younger brother I wanted to be good at it because she was,” Reisert said. “It’s a hard race but, as a sibling, it’s kind of fun.”

Reisert’s sister still competes in distance events at Vassar College while John, a senior from Waterville on the Winslow/Waterville team, is gearing up for Saturday’s Class A state meet at the University of Maine.

Reisert won his second consecutive 500 freestyle title at the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference meet last week while posting a career-best time of 5:08.1. That’s the fifth best time in Class A this year but Reisert likes his chances for at least a top-three finish. For one thing, everyone who posted a top time may not compete in the event, and for another, he’s peaking at the right time.

“I’m at least trying to get to 5:05 or below,” he said.

Winslow/Waterville coach Justin Giroux knows the preparation that goes into the 500 since he swam distances at Bates College.

“It takes an enormous amount of training under excruciating pain and (involves) achieving a higher pain tolerance,” he said.

Giroux took over as coach two years ago and knew he had a ringer once he saw Reisert in practice.

“I knew he was going to do amazing things and he has,” Giroux said.

The race is a test of physical and mental abilities. Giroux said Reisert has strong lung capacity and good technique to satisfy the physical requirements and the cool demeanor and perseverance needed on the mental side.

“When he gets tired his stroke doesn’t fall apart,” Giroux said.

Getting tired is part of the bargain in the 500 and as Reisert said “it’s all about pace.” He has a counter in each race call out his times at 50-yard intervals. Going out too fast is a race killer, mentally and physically. And having some left for the end is essential.

“By the last 175 yards it’s basically a sprint and what I have left,” Reisert said. “It’s all about pacing.”

Then there are smaller things, like shaving body hair and wearing a tech suit that contribute to the difference between winning and losing.

“Hair slows you down more than you would thing,” Reisert said, “(And) those suits are made to repel water.”

Giroux added Reisert has the ability to see the field during turns which also aids in his strategy.

“It’s wall to wall where he’s improved,” he said.

Reisert will also compete in the 200 individual medley, an event he finished second in at the KVACs. He said he’s spent an equal amount of time on this event, which involves butterfly, back, breast and freestyle strokes in 50 yard increments.

“He has very good IM times,” Giroux said. “It tells college coaches he can swim all the strokes.”

Reisert has narrowed his college selections and says wherever he decides to attends he plans to swim.

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