Sports

Mercer making some noise

Greg Mercer is a lot of things.

He’s loud, funny — and very confident in his abilities. And he can be all three at once.

The junior swimmer at South Kitsap High can also back up whatever talking he may do.

“I like to yell a lot,” Mercer said. “It gets me pumped up, just the screaming. Most people tell me I’m pretty loud, and I get that from my dad. If you ever go to a swim meet, you can always tell (which one is) my dad, because he’s always yelling. He doesn’t stop.”

Mercer’s dad has had plenty of reason to yell the last two years, as Mercer has become one of the school’s top swimmers. He placed seventh in the 100-yard freestyle and 10th in the 50-yard free at last year’s Class 4A state meet as a sophomore.

He also anchors the Wolves 200- and 400-yard free relay teams.

“He has a little bit of everything,” South Kitsap swim coach Dennis Anderson says of Mercer. “He has a pretty good start, his turns are good, he has a good kick and he has a good feel for the water on his hands. You put all of those together and it makes you a real good swimmer.

“A lot of kids have one or two of those things and they’re OK or they’re above average,” Anderson said. “He comes in and he can do a little bit of everything, he’s got a good attitude, and he’s got that little intangible in that he competes. He gets it done. He’s a racer. I like to call those kids racers. They just know how to go when its time to go.”

Mercer, along with fellow juniors Nick Dargel and Corey Smith, have taken a much larger leadership role this year, sacrificing some of their own practice time to work with the team’s younger swimmers.

“He’s a motivator, he’s kind of a humorous motivator,” Anderson said of Mercer. “The things he does are funny, but they motivate. He likes to talk to the guys. He’s a good little leader.”

“I’ve always kind of taken charge. I’m the team captain right now, and I always step up into the leadership position and kind of help out,” Mercer said. “I’m a little behind where I want to be. I’m pretty tired with club practices and high school practices, but I’ve had some good swims.

“We do focus on them a lot, helping them out with their strokes and their sets,” Mercer said. “But for me, since I have two practices a day (one with school, the other with the Puget Sound Swim Club), I can really get my workout in in club practice.”

Mercer has been swimming in just about every event so far this year, filling in where ever Anderson needs him too, yelling all the while.

“Normally, by the end of a meet, I’ve lost my voice,” Mercer said. “By the end of the week, I have no voice. Yelling is kind of my thing.”

So is humor.

“I get to wear a speedo,” Mercer deadpans when asked about his favorite part of swimming.

But when he gets serious, he is very opinionated.

“It’s just a great exercise,” Mercer says of swimming. “It’s a real sport. I don’t mean to dog any of the other sports, but in some other sports, it doesn’t take any skill or determination. Swimming takes determination , hard work in practice and commitment.”

Mercer credits his sisters, Megan and Erin, for getting him started in competitive swimming.

“I like the competitive part,” Mercer said. “I’m real competitive. I kind of always wanted to do more of a team sport, more of a physical sport, but swimming is really competitive, and I really like that.”

It’s kind kind of drive that has Mercer high on Anderson’s personal list of his best all-time swimmers.

“He’s been in my top 10,” Anderson said. “Maybe in the lower part of the top 10. He could end up being one of the better swimmers to come out of here, and we’ve had a bunch of good ones. He could be one of the top 5 swimmers coming out of here. He’s got the talent. A lot of work and a little luck, that’s what it takes.”

With his senior season still to come, Mercer is concentrating on a run at state in his familiar events, the 100- and 50-yard frees and all three team relays.

Then it’s off to college and beyond.

“My dad says (to go to college) in-state because he’s been to everyone of my meets,” Mercer said. “He doesn’t want to miss any while I’m in college, but I’d like to go to USC. I’m looking at nationals in the years to come, division I college and maybe, someday, the Olympic trials.”

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