Pain is price Hawks’ Field gladly pays

mwochnick@theolympian.comDecember 25, 2013 

Shoulder inflammation keeps River Ridge’s Logan Field in constant pain when he swims – “breaststroke I feel it the most,” he says – but it hasn’t kept him from putting up district-qualifying times already this season.

PETER HALEY/ STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

The words ending in “-itis” in Logan Field’s life – tendinitis, arthritis, synovitis – are variations on an inflammatory theme.

What it means, more often than not, is pain in his left elbow when Field executes the strokes of a competitive high school swimmer.

At times, it hurts bad enough he can’t make it through a full practice with coach Robert Higashi’s boys team at River Ridge High School.

“Breaststroke I feel it the most,” Field said. “Freestyle I feel it the least.”

Though his pool time and yardage are sometimes limited, Field – a senior captain and the Hawks’ top returning swimmer – can count significant achievements in a sport he didn’t take up seriously until his sophomore year. Last season, he placed in two events at the state Class 2A meet – eighth in the 200-yard freestyle (1 minute, 57.96 seconds) and 16th in the 100 free (55.60).

It helps that he’s fast, apparent from his first event in the first meet of the 2011-2012 season, which was also the first time Field had ever been officially timed in a competitive event.

In his first high school race, Field clocked 1:18 in the 100 backstroke, a district-qualifying time right out of the box, which is unusual for a first-time swimmer with no club team background.

Higashi was not too surprised, he said, because he knew Field was athletic (he was a pitcher as a youngster) and only needed to let his natural ability come out and play.

“He’s come a long way with his hard work,” Higashi said.

On Dec. 18, Field gave hints of the season to come with firsts in two events in the Hawks’ opening dual meet, a 103-69 loss to Aberdeen. Field got district qualifying out of the way in winning the 200 free (2:00.26) and 100 free (55.11). He also swam the backstroke leg on the Hawks’ 200 medley relay team and anchored the 400 free relay.

With a total turnout of 18 swimmers, about half of whom are underclassmen or first-time swimmers, Higashi’s Hawks were outnumbered by Aberdeen. Field, with his senior status and state credentials, takes seriously his leadership role as captain (with fellow seniors Wayne Dixon and Eric Sundberg).

“I definitely try to push the team in practice,” he said.

He’s an old hand now, but it was not until his freshman year that he clued in to competitive swimming at all. He was in a freshman fitness class when a teacher’s assistant named Josh Duran, then a junior on the Hawks’ swim team and now a close friend, told Field he ought to give it a try.

Field caught the bug, swam as much as he could the rest of that year, and then turned out for the school team as a sophomore.

The tendinitis started kicking in that first season, then last year as a junior he did “doctor stuff” during the season, he said, including physical therapy and steroid injections. Finally, during spring break last school year, he had surgery on the elbow.

It seemed to be working, but the inflammation returned “as soon as I got back in the pool,” he said.

So he strokes on through the pain, and is comfortable with the idea that swimming does not figure in to his long-term life goals. There will be other sports – he played on the River Ridge golf team this fall for the first time – and other pursuits.

In that vein, he credits buddy Duran for also turning him on to cars.

“I love working on cars,” said Field, who, among other enhancements, amped up the turbocharger in his own 2004 Subaru WRX.

Field’s post-high school plans include a technical school to get his auto mechanics certification, after which he hopes to transfer to a four-year college with an eye on an automotive engineering degree.

In the meantime, he’s got one more season of the sport he has come to love, he said – the coaches, the teammates, “just the experience.” He’s relished learning and practicing the techniques passed on by Higashi.

It will be “bittersweet,” he said, when he’s done with swimming – and the pain of it – and he’ll appreciate it for what it was.

“I’m here for fun,” he said. “I enjoy it. I don’t coast through practice – I definitely give it my all – but it’s all for fun.”

Boys swimming outlook

10 swimmers to watch

Phillip Reece, Capital, butterfly, jr.

Collin Mattson, Capital, freestyles, jr.

Logan Field, River Ridge, freestyles, sr.

Connor Ridgeway, North Thurston, breaststroke, jr.

Tanner Holmes, North Thurston, diving, sr.

David Wolf, North Thurston, diving, sr.

Andrew Wright, Olympia, breaststroke/IM, so.

Tim Ward, Olympia, backstroke/IM, sr.

Colton Mahon, Timberline, IM/freestyles, sr.

Troy Krumpols, Shelton, diving, so.

Fast strokes: North Thurston has been the elite of South Sound swimming the past few years, and could cap off its fourth straight undefeated regular season. The Rams are 31-0 in dual meets, dating to the 2010-11 season. And what better way for the Rams to start off the season than giving coach Jak Ayres his 100th career dual-meet win with a 127-53 victory over Foss on Dec. 12. Ayres’ record is 102-21 in dual meets. ... Capital’s depth will be a difference maker in Class 2A as the postseason rolls around, and it showed in its 111-65 league-opening win over Aberdeen, where Reece Phillips swam a state-qualifying time in the 100 butterfly (58.48 seconds) ... Of Olympia’s 32 swimmers, 15 are freshman, and coach Mel Smith said senior Tim Ward and sophomore Andrew Wright “hold strong promise” for a return trip to state in February. ... Senior Colton Mahon is Timberline’s lone returning swimmer with state experience. He was a member of the Blazers’ 200-yard freestyle relay.

mwochnick@theolympian.com

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