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BOYS SWIMMER OF THE YEAR: Collins Hill's Bekemeyer grows into elite swimmer

Collins Hill’s Cody Bekemeyer has been selected as the Daily Post’s boys swimmer of the year. (Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan)

Collins Hill’s Cody Bekemeyer has been selected as the Daily Post’s boys swimmer of the year. (Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan)

As a sophomore, Cody Bekemeyer was one of the state’s top swimmers.

Prior to this season, the Collins Hill junior received a boost in his training.

Bekemeyer was selected to the USA Swimming Select Camp, a prestigious gathering of the nation’s top swimmers that allowed Bekemeyer to hone his skills.

It paid off this winter in the pool.

Bekemeyer, the Daily Post’s Swimmer of the Year, was state runner-up in 200- and 500-yard freestyle. He also set county records along the way and helped Collins Hill to a fourth-place finish at state.

“Cody has talent coming out of his fingernails,” Collins Hill coach Jennifer Weaver said. “He’s probably one of the most incredible swimmers I have ever seen. He’s fun to watch in the water.”

Bekemeyer was one of 30 male swimmers to be chosen to the national camp at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., in October. The camp allowed elite swimmers like Bekemeyer to get top-notch lessons on training and nutrition, as well as information on drug testing and psychological training skills.

“That kind of influenced my swimming a little more to help me with higher level swimming,” Bekemeyer said. “I think I have the nutrition down, but the mental toughness was probably the best.”

Bekemeyer got to put that training to the test just a month later at Junior Nationals. He was fourth in the mile, earned All-American status by placing ninth in the 500 and was 11th in the 400 individual medley.

“I don’t think I was nervous at all and that’s why I performed so well,” Bekemeyer said.

Bekemeyer’s classmates got to enjoy his success. During Junior Nationals, Collins Hill televised his races around the school during class changes.

“The whole school was into it,” Weaver said. “They were talking about in the hallways. It was really exciting.”

Bekemeyer’s success continued during the high school season with Collins Hill. He won Gwinnett County championships in the 200 and 500 free to help the Eagles claim the team title.

The team championship meant just as much, if not more, to Bekemeyer.

He always put the team before himself. In December there was the state swim meet at Georgia Tech for club swimmers. That was the same weekend Collins Hill was at an exhibition invitational. Bekemeyer chose not to attend the state meet, so he could be with his Collins Hill teammates.

“I thought that was really cool. Here he is in a bigger meet than we are and he knows where his heart is and came to support us,” Weaver said. “I just love he’s not all about USS. He’s a true team member. It gives him the all-around package of being a great swimmer, a great kid, a great student.”

Bekemeyer learned to swim when he was 2 1/2. He started swimming competitively when he was 9 and had instant success. Although, he’ll admit he did cut corners during practice.

“I used to be a really bad cheater. I would cheat a lot in practice,” Bekemeyer said. “By the time I moved up to (SwimAtlanta’s) Senior One at age 14, I started saying to myself I should probably stop. Ever since that day, I progressively got better and better.”

Bekemeyer placed third at the state meet as a sophomore and improved on it this year with a runner-up finish.

He posted times in the 200 free (1:39.93) and 500 free (4:29.21) that set Gwinnett County meet records.

“At county, he was knocking on the door. He was right there. I was thinking he would attack it,” Weaver said.

Bekemeyer maintains a 3.83 GPA and has received college interest from Florida and N.C. State. After placing third and second at state the last two years, the gradual progression is for him to win a state championship next season. It’s a goal his coach thinks he can reach.

“He can do anything he puts his mind to. I’d love to see him go under 4:20 in a high school meet. I’d love to see his big picture, he deserves it, in the gym lobby as a state champion. I’d love for him to knock out another county championship for his team,” Weaver said. “He’s a true student of his sport. He likes to study swimming, which is very rare.”