MORGANTOWN — Don’t tell anyone, but Morgantown swimmer Thomas Carter has a bit of a love affair.
The junior athlete loves to swim — it was the sport he came to first — but he also loves to get physical on the gridiron. As a member of the Mohigans’ football squad during the fall — a team which finished 5-6 this season and earned a trip to the first round of the state playoffs — Carter learned from some of the best senior leaders in the state and used it to help craft his ability as a leader in the pool.
“He has worked with a team that is three times as large as the number of participants we have and he’s used the experience and the leaders he’s seen and applying it here on the pool deck,” MHS assistant coach JC Pettit said. “He’s using what he sees as good qualities in those other individuals and applying it here for his own benefit and for the team’s benefit.”
Carter made his mark as an underclassman over the last two seasons with the squad, but he truly came into his own when the opportunity presented itself to take a leadership role.
“I fell in love with this team immediately. Whenever I got a chance to become a captain, I was really excited for it,” Carter said.
“I wanted to help all the younger swimmers and all the newcomers love the sport the way I love the sport. I want to make sure everybody is getting better each day in the pool.”
Carter’s positive attitude has proved to be a highlight of the team — it’s an aspect that Pettit views as crucial to the growth of both Carter and his fellow teammates.
“He does not let a sub-par performance get him down. He uses it as a learning experience — what can I do to improve the next time in the water, and what can I do in between competitions to improve,” Pettit said.
“He shows the other team members you don’t have to improve your time every time you’re in the water. He shows how you can use that to your benefit in the future.”
Carter also views him time in the pool as a cross-training opportunity — a chance to develop his athletic skills and advance his conditioning in ways other football players may not. He’s even convinced a few of his gridiron teammates to hit the water and reap the benefits.
“Swimming is such a great cardiovascular exercise, it helps me improve my stamina in the offseason for football,” he said. “In football it also helps strength wise, because it helps you build muscle.”