He started out as a Thunderbird, but he’ll soon be a Hawkeye.
Waupaca High School senior Seth Lane has accepted an athletic scholarship from the University of Iowa.
Unlike high-profile sports like football, basketball and hockey, however, Lane will join the men’s swimming and diving team. He signed his national letter of intent Wednesday, Nov. 9, at Waupaca High School in front of family and friends.
The Hawkeyes have one of the nation’s top men’s swimming and diving programs. Iowa is ranked 10th in the latest College Swimming Coaches Association of America Top 25 Poll and is one of five Big Ten Conference schools in the top 25, along with Michigan (No. 1), Ohio State (11), Minnesota (15) and Purdue (17).
“You really have to love it to do this,” Lane said. “You put all this work in at practice and you come home and you’re sore, but it’s awesome when you feel that culmination of all that work coming together when you’re at a meet. You can let that all go and show what you’re really made of. There’s no limit to how far you can go.”
Not many Waupaca residents know of Lane’s accomplishments as a member of the Appleton-based Fox Valley Wave.
“I started coaching with the Fox Valley Wave 2 1/2 years ago and Seth moved from the Fox Cities YMCA Swim Team,” Wave coach Curt Beutler said. “It has been a pleasure coaching him. We’ve had some other swimmers go on to Division 1 careers, but it’s exciting to watch what he’s done in situations that aren’t perfect. It took me an hour and 15 minutes to drive here today. That’s a normal commute for Seth to and from the pool. He has shown that dedication, that commitment, that passion, that desire day in and day out.”
Lane joined the Iola-Scandinavia Thunderbird swim team about 10 years ago.
“I started in Iola when I was really little,” he said. “Dick Wright coached me and that’s basically where I first learned how to swim competitively. Then I moved on to New London for a few years and a couple of teams in Appleton.”
Colleges began to take notice and began contacting him last year.
“The tough part is you have to sift through all the colleges,” Lane said. “They pay for you to come down there and see what it’s like.”
The choice became easier once he visited Iowa City.
“The teammates are great and they just made a new facility, so they clearly support the swimming team,” Lane said. “Nobody here really knew what I did. Now that I can actually go to the school and be recognized, it’s going to be such a thrill.”
Lane practices with the Wave six days a week in Appleton.
“I usually have about a half-hour after school to do some homework and eat something, then I drive to Appleton, have a two-hour practice, come home and eat dinner,” he said.
His best events include the sprint freestyle and backstroke.
Beutler and the Wave helped prepare Lane to take his swimming talents to the next level.
“My coach loves what he does,” he said. “He’s very involved and has us doing workouts that colleges might be doing. He really prepares us mentally and physically. He prepares us for any situation. We’re all very competitive and race against each other in practice, but we’re best friends. We’re like a family.”
Lane is currently in the middle of the Wave’s fall/winter season, which began in September and runs through March. He competes in several tournaments and headed to the Twin Cities Nov. 11-13 for the Minnesota Grand Prix.
“There are 30 members of the U.S. National Team that are going to be there, like Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte and Dara Torres,” he said.
Most of the Wave’s swimmers eventually go on to swim competitively in college.
“I never really tried to think of myself as ‘I’m good enough for this or that,'” Lane said. “I just kept working hard and the next thing you know, I’m getting a phone call from these colleges. It’s like, ‘Wow, this is really happening, I can’t believe this.’ I had to have my phone on me at all times. It was down to Iowa, Purdue and Georgia Tech. Iowa made me an offer. I really thought about it and I was like, ‘I would love to be part of this.’ It’s a really tough decision because that’s what’s going to shape my future.”
Lane said swimming will have an impact on his life for good.
“I’ve put so much of my life into it,” he said. “I kept practicing and driving all that distance. It was part of me. It’ll always be part of me.
“That’s the unique thing about swimming, you either love it or you hate it,” he added. “It gets into your mind. Some people might call you crazy, but putting all that effort in and showing yourself to the world is unbelievable. It’s second to none.”
“It’s really exciting to see him take his next step because there’s nothing like D1 athletics and getting the privilege to participate in that,” Beutler said. “There’s nothing like getting the honor of representing your school. What they will do for him and what he will do for them is going to be exciting to watch for the next four years.”
“I really want to reach my potential,” Lane said. “You can keep going and going. My ultimate goal is to go to the Olympics. You couldn’t wish for more than that, but there are also NCAA championships. The sky’s the limit.”