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Just keep swimming

Sophomore secures several state titles

The heavy scent of chlorine and unease lingered in the air, as the swimmers awaited on the diving board for that one particular sound. A slow crescendoing symphony of racing hearts and deep breaths, conducted by the shared feeling of adrenaline, rippled through the natatorium. In the midst of this orchestra stood Christopher Gregg ‘26, whose journey in swimming started in the shallow ends of the Barton Hills Country Club pool.

Christopher first started to take swimming lessons from a safety standpoint and as an additional summer activity to do as a young kid. From taking lessons at Liberty, then Goldfish, and loosely attending practices at the Washtenaw Interclub Swim Conference (WISC), his love for swimming started to grow, according to Christopher’s mother, Michelle Gregg. It became clear to his coaches and parents that swimming was more than just a summer activity. It was something that he wanted to do for a very long time.

“His summer club coaches were like, ‘Oh where does he swim,’” said Michelle. “I would always say, ‘here.’ But they would be like ‘No, where does he swim year-round.’ And I would say, ‘he doesn’t.’ And they were like, ‘Well he should. He really enjoys it.’”

The transition from viewing swimming as a casual activity to a competitive pursuit was not easy for Christopher. 

“Swimming is a brutal sport because there’s a clock,” said Michelle. “The clock always tells you if you’ve gotten ‘better,’ ‘stayed the same,’ or ‘worse.’ As a parent, especially with a kid like Christopher, who’s always been very mathematical and kind of understands the science behind it, we had to try to take the emphasis off of the clock and help him put the emphasis on learning to love the sport more because the clock is ever present.” 

Despite the demanding nature for the sport, Christopher’s love for the sport stayed constant all the way from elementary school to high school, as it was the driving force behind his commitment.

“Once you get attached to it, you just really like it, and you keep doing it over and over again,” said Christopher.

Christopher dedicates 20 hours per week on swimming, which includes 15 to 16 hours of swimming and an additional four to five hours of weightlifting. On top of his rigorous swimming schedule, he has to balance it with his school work and eight hours of sleep each day.

“Sleep is just really critical because I need that sleep to function, otherwise nothing goes well,” said Christopher. “I don’t care if I have more work to do. I can do it in the morning. Things always go better if I’m well rested. Really it’s just keeping on top of things. I try to do work when I get it. I don’t try to procrastinate on stuff. So if we have a block schedule, I like to do stuff the first night I get it and not the second night I get it, if possible.”

Henry Beck ‘26, one of Christopher’s closest friends, sees the dedication that Christopher puts into swimming. 

“He’s always been really committed to swimming,” said Beck. “He always talks about how he misses holidays and other important things due to swimming. So he’s really on the grind. I’ve also seen him race a lot, like at WISC last summer and the summer before that. He was just crazy fast, so it’s clear that he’s committed and trains hard.”

While navigating the daily challenge of balancing school and swimming, Christopher faced one of his hardest challenges with the departure of his head coach, who left and took a new job, over this summer. Despite the difficulty of losing a key figure, he has found a way to overcome that challenge.

“It’s just embracing the new coach, trusting the process, trusting the training, and just always knowing that things will work out,” said Christopher.

Christopher’s swimming journey is marked by many achievements, including earning his first state title at the age of ten, winning the East Coast Championship, securing second place in the Midwest, and qualifying for USA Swimming Futures Championships in Chicago this year.

“We are always proud of him because of the way that he just approaches it with a maturity that I think is well beyond a 16 year old,” said Michelle.

This year, Christopher attended Speedo Sectionals in Austin, Texas, where he swam the 1000 yard freestyle.

“He’s a distance swimmer by trait, which is not something they do at the high school level,” said Michelle. “He got up on that block, and I was really nervous because we had not seen him at that level yet. This is a big stage. It’s the University of Texas. And he dove in and swam that race to perfection. And it was this incredible moment of maturity that I was just so excited that I got to see. But you just saw all the practice just come out on him in that race.”

Not only does he compete in standard pool competitions, he also attends many open water races, where he tackles 5Ks and 7.5Ks. One open water race was in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, where he qualified for USA Swimming Junior Nationals. 

“It was in June, and the air temperature was like 58 degrees Fahrenheit,” said Michelle. “The water temperature was like 70. It was cold, and it was windy. Also, open water really isn’t swimmable in Michigan until June or July. So we had very little practice leading up to it. We were really worried about it. But he just dominated that whole race and just the elements didn’t matter to him.”

Another one was in Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia, where he swam and won a 5K during Tropical Storm Ophelia. 

Beyond the medals, swimming has taught him many valuable life lessons, especially with teammates by learning how to motivate each other and how to interact with people. 

“He’s highly compassionate,” said Michelle. “He has a very high EQ, and you see that come out from the way he treats his teammates, his peers, his coaches.” 

Throughout his journey, he has learned a lot about responsibility and hard work. Swimming has made him physically and mentally tough due to the many roadblocks he had to encounter. 

“It’s not a linear path,” said Christopher. “You put in a lot of work, and you don’t get any better. Then you put in the same amount of work, and you get a lot better. It’s kind of like a stock market. If you put in the work consistently, it will always go up in the long term, just like a stock market.”

Looking ahead, Christopher sets his sights on college swimming. While the specific university is yet to be determined, his aspirations extend beyond swimming, as he contemplates a career in the medical field, possibly in neuroscience. 

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