Toward the end of the Carson Aquatic Club's swim practice on Friday, Evan Fischer didn't look like a potential Olympian. He appeared tired and fatigued, especially when 14-year-old Lauren Costella sped past him in their shared lane.
But who could've blamed the 17-year-old Carson High senior for running out of gas at the end of the training session, considering his day had started about 12 hours earlier running half-mile repeats on the Senators' track at 6 a.m. in the pre-dawn chill with cross country coach Jason Macy.
Fatigue promises to become a familiar feeling for Fischer this autumn as he attempts to achieve a "double" that's never been accomplished by a Northern Nevada athlete - he's trying to repeat as the Northern 4A zone cross country champion while preparing to meet the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials qualifying time in the individual medley and breaststroke events.
"It's not that bad," said Fischer, understating his non-stop schedule. "Sure, I get tired. I'm thinking of November, though, when we go to 12 swim practices a week."
(Mercifully for Fischer, the 4A State Meet is set for Reed High on Nov. 6, meaning he'll only have one week of running before two swim practices.)
When school began in September, Fischer wasn't even on the Senators cross country roster. He didn't believe first-year Tigershark coach Jack Simon would agree to his running cross country while at the same time gearing up for the 2000 Olympic Trials.
But two weeks into cross country season, it was Simon who approached Fischer as well as swimmers Ryan and Lauren Costella and Justin Barber and recommended the quartet supplement their swimming with some distance running.
"It's a long season and I began to rethink (their joining of the team)," said Simon, who noted the swimmers are currently in an aerobic phase of conditioning which fits in well with cross country. "I went to them and said 'I think you should run.' They weren't going full bore, so I don't think it will hurt their swimming. They can start training hard in November.
"Swimmers know how to run and are usually pretty good because they're so aerobically fit."
Of course, Fischer himself is the prime example of how a swimmer can quickly become a good cross country runner. With no previous running experience, he won zone despite rarely practicing with his teammates.
Fisher admits it will be difficult to repeat as zone champion. He figures he's about four weeks behind schedule in his running conditioning and he's added 15 pounds of muscle to his frame - great for churning through the water but a definite handicap over a cross country hill. Right now, he's running about 17 minutes for 2.7 miles; last year when he won zone, he covered 3.1 miles in 17 minutes.
"(The team) was happy I came out, but they're not happy I'm running this slow," joked Fischer.
Macy's not too concerned about Fischer's late start.
"Evan didn't shine until the zone meet last year," Macy said. "He did the same schedule last year. Basically, he'll be in our top three without a doubt."
Macy respects his three athletes - Fischer, Costella and Barber - who both run and swim. (Lauren Costella suffered an ankle injury running and will stick with swimming.)
"They're all studs," Macy said. "I really can't say how they'll help the team because they're still getting into shape."
In addition to Macy, another person who seems to be happy with Fischer's decision is his father, Michael, a former Big-10 steeplechase champion.
"He's excited," Fischer said. "He asked if I was going to run - I think he wanted me to."
Even if he wins another zone title, Fischer said he's positive he'll hank up his cross country shoes after this season and concentrate solely on swimming. He's already received recruiting letters from the USC, Michigan and Ohio State swim teams. And despite looking worn out on Friday, Simon - not one to exaggerate a swimmer's talent - said Fischer has the potential to reach the Trials next year.
Of course, if neither running or swimming pans out, there's always the Olympic triathlon
Notes: Fischer and the rest of the Senators are in action this Friday in the Carson Invitational at Fuji Parkone runner who Fischer will have trouble beating this year at zone is teammate Daryl Nourse, who's been the Senator's No. 1 boy runner this seasonlook for Shanna Sparks, the Carson freshman who was third at the Stanford Invite on Saturday, to win Friday's girls eventthe Tigersharks are set to practice three times a week at Moana Pool in Reno during the upcoming Carson Aquatic Facility's closure this month.