Grady’s Swimming Life

Anoop Boyal

A Tuesday afternoon, a nice bleachy scent fills the air, bright LED lights light up the pool, fans from all around the world come to cheer for Grady Wheeler, a Senior at Mount Vernon High School.

Grady Wheeler, 17, has been swimming since he was 13 years old. A childhood friend of his convinced him to swim on the Parks and Rec swim team for Mount Vernon which is how he got into swimming. Wheeler realized he wasn’t just an average swimmer when he smoked the whole team at his very first practice. He only had a little bit of swimming experience because he went to the pool during the summer. After his first season swimming he knew that he wanted to continue competing.

Wheeler is on a club team based in Cedar Rapids called the MACR Sharks and is on the Washington Warriors High School swim team where he has swam on the varsity team since his freshman year. He is a three time state qualifier, and has high hopes for this season. ”I’m confident I will be going to state this year, I am excited to see where our team stands,” said Wheeler. People train for years to qualify for state but Wheeler does it for fun. Wheeler competes in the 50 freestyle and 100 butterfly. His 50 freestyle is 21.42 seconds and the fastest time in Iowa for that race is 20.41.

The previous year he trained every day for over three hours. “I’m excited for this year because without COVID-19 restrictions we will be able to have team parties and after meet parties,” said Wheeler. Unfortunately, last year there were no team parties because of COVID-19 but they still got to swim a full season without anyone on the team getting sick. Over the summer Wheeler injured his leg. This was unfortunate timing because he missed out on two weeks of practice. Wheeler had to watch on the side because he could not swim with the injury.

Even though Wheeler is just getting back into swimming again, he is still able to practice with the rest of the swimming team. Wheeler was also in soccer his freshman year, and he has decided to run track his senior year. 

When he is not swimming, Wheeler works as a dishwasher at Jones County Local in Anamosa. He swims from 4:30 to 6:00 a.m. then he has school from 8:15 a.m. -3:15 p.m.. After school he works from 5-10 p.m., and on the weekends sometimes to 11 p.m.. As a dishwasher, Wheeler works hard to clean the dishes the best he can. “The bills ain’t gonna pay themselves,” said Wheeler. At a young age he started washing dishes. Some say that’s the reason why he’s such a beast at it, but that’s a story for another time.