Prep Sports

Forrest Frazier of Iowa City High has eyes on 2020 Olympics

Swimmer says 'it's not just something I wish for'

Iowa City High’s Forrest Frazier competes in the 100-yard breaststroke during the 2017 boys’ state swimming meet at the Marshalltown YMCA/YWCA on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
Iowa City High’s Forrest Frazier competes in the 100-yard breaststroke during the 2017 boys’ state swimming meet at the Marshalltown YMCA/YWCA on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
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IOWA CITY — For Forrest Frazier, realizing his ultimate swimming goal is a process.

And the Iowa City High junior doesn’t shy away from the subject — earning a spot on the 2020 U.S. Olympic men’s swimming team.

“I think about it every day, right when I get up in the morning,” he said. “It is what gets me out of bed and gets me going every single morning. When I get up on a Friday morning and have to go to practice after four grueling days in a row, it’s that thought of making the Olympic team that gets me motivated for that Friday morning.”

Before you scoff at the notion of a teenager from Iowa City making the U.S. Olympic swim team, where just the top two finishers in each event at the Olympic Trials make the team, understand Frazier isn’t your ordinary 16-year-old.

“He genuinely wants to be swimming fast. He’s happy,” said Megan Oesting, Fraizer’s Eastern Iowa Swim Federation club coach. “I feel like with some kids you see potential and you have to pull it out of them.

“You don’t have to sell Forrest on fast swimming. He’s very pure, He showed up pure and he has been pure the entire time.”

Oesting has been Frazier’s club coach since he started swimming at age 8. It took her “about five minutes” to realize Frazier had the makeup to be a big-time swimmer. With most age-group swimmers at 16, Oesting has to simplify her instruction. When working with Frazier, much of the talk is technical in nature.

“I can’t have those type of conversations with most people I coach,” she said. “When I talk about the water and what he needs to do with it, he understands what I am saying. Some people need to go up and down the pool to figure out what the water is doing. He’s already done that.”

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Such talk of making an Olympic team could cause some swimmers to lose focus. Frazier knows there is much work to do for that to happen.

He still has two years left to swim for the Little Hawks and there is another year of swimming at national-level meets to hone his skills and develop more as a long-course performer.

“For me, it’s not something that I just wish for,” said Frazier of his Olympic quest. “It’s something that I want to happen so I am going to do everything I can possibly do to make it happen. Knowing what I need to do is all a part of it, making a plan. It is understanding what I’ve got to do every day to put me in a position to make the team.”

Frazier’s coach at City High, Zane Hugo, believes Frazier is following a realistic path to the Olympics.

“I think he is setting himself up to achieve that goal,” Hugo said. “He going to swim in college at (the University of California-Berkeley) and the head coach at Cal (David Durden) was just named the head men’s coach of the (2020) Olympic team.

“He’s setting himself up really well to succeed.”

DEVELOPMENT AS A SWIMMER

Oesting said Frazier arrived with swimming instincts that take others much longer to develop.

“Some kids show up and you have to walk them through where the water is or where their body is and help them learn to interact there,” Oesting said. “Forrest showed up athletic and in touch with the water. I don’t have to tell him a lot of the intuitive connections that good swimmers have to develop. I had to tell him how to harness those connections.”

Frazier has continued to improve as he progressed through the age-group ranks. He is the top-ranked swimmer in Iowa and 10th nationally in the Class of 2020, according to CollegeSwimming.com. Last month, Frazier was among the first in his class to commit to a college.

Earlier this month, he shined on the national stage at the West Winter Junior Championships in Austin, Texas. Frazier won the 100-yard breaststroke in 52.51 seconds and was just touched out in the 200 breaststroke, finishing in 1:55.33.

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“I was happy with my finishes (at the junior nationals),” Frazier said. “I know I can do better in future meets.”

That reaction fits with Oesting’s assessment of Frazier’s performance in Texas.

“(In the morning preliminaries), he was going faster than he had experienced before so he was adjusting to the new speed,” Oesting said. “At night, he adjusted and that was the first time he was able to deploy all that power and skills we have been working on. He was able to race with his new skills.”

Although his time in the 200 was very good, Oesting said Frazier’s overall lack of experience swimming the longer distance likely cost him a second gold medal.

“In the morning, he was sticking his toe in and seeing how long he could get the flow to last,” she said. “At night, he hit a fork in the road and wasn’t confident enough to take the right I wanted him to take. He took a left and he was kicking himself because at the end he knew he had so much left and should have gone when I wanted him to go.

“His 200 was experience free. He got good experience and he will get better.”

The junior national meet was a short-course event, but Frazier also started making headway in the long-course events that make up the Olympic program.

“This summer was the first time he really stepped into a long course-type national meet,” Oesting said. “He’s getting traction there and he is moving into some big-boy events which will allow him to work his way to making the national junior team, the national team and Team USA. He’s really just at the beginning of things.”

PREPS VS. CLUBS

Some swimmers with Frazier’s abilities opt to swim exclusively for their club teams. Despite the fact he hasn’t yet competed with the Little Hawks this season, Frazier is committed to being part of the team after the holiday break.

The team aspect of high school swimming holds a strong attraction for Frazier.

“I’m swimming for something besides myself,” he said. “Every day, everything I do is for myself to get to the Olympics but it is nice to also get up and go to a City High practice to be with my team and do what is best for my team.”

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His training for the national junior meet, which was held Dec. 6-8, kept him out of the water for the Little Hawks to start the season. A minor shoulder strain has delayed his joining the City High team. Frazier won a pair of state titles last year as a sophomore, taking the 100 butterfly in 49.10 and 100 breaststroke in 54.16.

He can’t wait to get back in the pool for the seven-week run to the state meet on Feb. 9 at the University of Iowa’s Campus and Recreation Center pool.

I’m beyond excited,” Frazier said about returning to the Little Hawks. “This (time off) was definitely needed. I needed some time to get back into it, build back into it. When you are on a taper it can be rough on your body. I’m definitely itching for it. I can’t wait for after break to hop up on the blocks with a City High cap on.”

Hugo said Frazier has been there to support his teammates from the start.

“He was actually keeping score (on Dec. 18) against Waterloo,” Hugo said. “It was going back and forth over the last few events and he was coming over and telling me and my assistant coach what places we needed to get to win the meet. It’s really fun to have somebody besides just the coaches worrying about things like that.

“It would be great to have him competing, but ultimately he and I know the peak competition for him is going to be the state meet.”

Hugo’s approach provides a perfect balance for Frazier between club and prep swimming, according to Oesting.

“His high school coach is fantastic,” she said. “Zane is 100 percent on board with all of Forrest’s goals. Zane is pretty ego-free when it comes to serving a kid. Zane is the perfect high school coach for Forrest. He’s fantastic.”

THE PROCESS

Frazier’s coaches said, despite his impressive accomplishments to date, he is capable of doing greater things.

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“Forrest has improved a great deal every year,” Hugo said. “I think if he sets his mind to a goal like (the Olympics), it is totally achievable. He understands it is not going to be easy but it’s something where he knows what it is going to take to do it.”

Oesting is excited about Frazier’s future.

“The thing about Forrest is that even though is he going real fast right now, he is nowhere near his top end,” she said. “We’re talking about going some places and doing some things that he is just barely stepping into right now.”

And the culmination of that process could be the Olympics.

“Absolutely, 100 percent. No hesitation,” Oesting said about Frazier meeting his ultimate goal. “We’ve already talked about it. It is common chatter for us. We’re not afraid of it.”

Or, as Frazier said as his voice rises with excitement: “I mean, it’s THE OLYMPICS. How can that not get you fired up?”

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