April 2, 2013


By Travis Lazarczyk tlazarczyk@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

If you take a look at the Messalonskee High School boys swimming records, you’re going to see Arthur Conover’s name. A lot.

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Staff photo by David Leaming

Conover, a senior, leaves Messalonskee with every individual school record. He’s also a member of every record-holding relay team in Messalonskee history.

“Whatever event I put him in, he won,” Sarah Rushton, Messalonskee swim coach, said.

This season, Conover won his third consecutive Class A state championship in the 500 freestyle, dominating the race with a time of 4 minutes, 37.94 seconds, nearly 12 seconds better than the second place finisher, Michael O’Donovan of Cheverus.

For his efforts, Conover is the Morning Sentinel Boys Swimmer of the Year.

Despite entering the 500 free final as the heavy favorite, Conover said he was surprised by his margin of victory. Never in the race did Conover assume he had clinched the victory, however.

“I just tried to get out fast and stay ahead. I wanted to see how well I could do,” Conover said. “I was very happy to be that far ahead. I was pushing myself the entire race. I was like, ‘I need to go faster.’ ”

Conover also placed third in the 200 free in the state championships, with a time of 1:44.49, but it’s the longer races in which Conover excels.

“He’s definitely focused more on his distance swimming, but he’s a well-rounded swimmer,” Rushton said.

Conover said the 500 free is probably his worst race in the long distance events, and on March 14, he set a state record in the 1,650 free with a time of 15:45.51 at the Maine Swimming Winter Championship meet.

“I’m naturally a better distance athlete. A lot of it is, it’s a mental trick you play. This is going to hurt, but you have to tell your mind it won’t,” Conover said. “I try to focus on my stroke, what I’m doing in the water. I try to be outside my body during the race. I’m being more critical, more analytical.”

This season, Conover changed up his training routine. In the past, he spent more time working on endurance, swimming a lot of repetitive yards.

“This year, I focused more on speed and power and let endurance take care of itself,” Conover said. “I was doing three or four miles a day rather than five or six.”

Next season, Conover will swim at Kenyon College with one of the top programs in NCAA Division III. From 1980 to 2010, Kenyon won 31 consecutive men’s swimming national championships, and last week, won the title again. In 2011 and 2012, the Lords were national runner-up.

“I loved the atmosphere, and the combination of rigorous academics and an elite swimming program,” Conover said of Kenyon, which is located in Gambier, Ohio. Conover plans on swimming the 500, 1,000, and the mile for the Lords.

“Whatever Arthur sets his mind to, he accomplishes,” Rushton said. “I see great success in his future.”

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

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