This Week’s Whiz Kid
Name: Adam Betts
School: Narragansett High School
Accomplishment: Winner of this year’s 1-mile Lifeguard Swim at Narragansett Town Beach.
Whiz Kid’s Key to Awesomeness: Narragansett High School senior Adam Betts strives for perfection in all areas of his life – not to please others, but solely to challenge himself to always set the bar higher.
He has been swimming since 11 and shares that when he was a child, he was heavy, so his parents encouraged him to find a physical activity that he liked.
“I was not good at any ball sports, so my parents put me in the introductory program at the South County YMCA. I immediately fell in love with the sport. When I was 14 I realized that if I wanted to reach my swimming potential I needed to challenge myself more, so I joined the Rams’ Swimming Club that swims out of URI, and St. George’s of Newport.”
Betts dove in from here and has been motivated to swim his personal best ever since.
“I love swimming for swimming, setting goals and reaching them, and training to the point where I can do something that I couldn’t before. Looking up at the scoreboard after a race and seeing a first place or a best time/pool record is one of most gratifying experiences that I can think of. To know that all the training and time you are putting into the sport is paying off is a great feeling.”
He swims for the Rams Swimming Club and is also an independent swimmer for Narragansett High School. Because the school doesn’t have a high school team, he gets all of his training from the Rams. He trains in the backstroke and the flyer.
“I swim the 100 and 200 yard backstroke and 100 and 200 yard butterfly. I also swim the 200 individual medley, because although my best stokes are backstroke and butterfly, my breaststroke and freestyle are strong enough to be competitive in an IM.”
If you’re wondering what type of training regimen Betts keeps, in conjunction with his demanding school studies, he’s candid about his workout schedule.
“I train six days a week, Monday through Saturday, two to three hours each night. In addition, I do doubles at least twice a week, and this year I am planning on doing doubles for most of the days instead of just two days before school. This year I also plan on getting a weight trainer and starting lifting so that I can boost my training regimen even more."
The best part of competitive swimming to Betts is the feeling of setting goals and working to achieve them. He also loves the friendships he has made as well as the places that swimming has brought him and will hopefully bring him in the future.
There are also challenging parts that go along with competitive swimming. Betts states that when it comes down to it, swimming is an individual sport.
“While I love practicing with my team and I have a lot of great friends from the hours I’ve logged at the pool, when you step up on the blocks, it’s just you. You are in charge of your swim. You need to rely on yourself and dig down deep inside to pull out you best race every time. I know people that go up to races without any real expectations or goals in mind, and you already know how they’re going to swim. Swimming is just as much if not more mental as it is physical. Setting myself up for success before I step up to race and mentally visualizing what I need to do helps me a lot. Keeping that drive and passion for swimming can be one of the hardest things that one needs to do in an individual sport such as swimming.”
One of his most recent accomplishments was winning the prestigious mile swim at the annual Lifeguard Games at Narragansett Town Beach. The Narragansett team is very competitive at the games, and they put the best athletes they have in every event.
“It was an honor to qualify to swim in the mile. It felt even better to win because all the best swimmers from all the beaches around the state were in the mile, and I felt like I was contributing to help Narragansett win. Also I felt like I was proving myself, because other than the trials to qualify my fellow lifeguards hadn’t seen me swim before. They didn’t know how I was going to do and were surprised at what was my first real breakout swim during the games.”
Some of Betts winning record times are:
- 100 yard backstroke: 00:52.84
- 200 yard backstroke: 01:59.02
- 100 yard fly: 00:54.43
- 200 yard IM: 02:04.04
His senior year is going to be very busy. In December, he’ll be heading up to Boston for a Senior Championship meet, which is for the best swimmers in New England.
After that, it’s the Rhode Island State Championships in February. In early March, he’ll be heading up to another elite meet in Boston. Then in late March, he’ll go to Florida to compete in Junior Nationals, where he would like to take top 30 in the country.
“My goal this year is to make USA Swimming Nationals in Indianapolis in June in the 100 backstroke. I will need a 00:49.51, so I have some work cut out for me in order to drop that time, but I know that I’m up for the challenge.”
Betts hopes that the Olympics are in his future.
“During the next Olympics I will have just finished sophomore year in college, so I will probably be in the best shape of my life. My goal is to make the Olympic Trials in the 100 back, and I will see where that takes me.”
He does have a very special mentor in his life, but it’s not an Olympic swimmer like Michael Phelps or Rhode Island Olympian Elizabeth Beisel—it’s his coach.
“In terms of mentors, my coach is one of my closest companions on the pool deck. She and I definitely have a strong bond. She’s been coaching me long enough that she can usually tell exactly what I’m thinking or where I am emotionally before or after a race. Over the years she has tailored her style when coaching me so that I am able to get the most out of everything she says or I do. Over the years we have earned each other’s respect, and there is a unique relationship of trust and commitment that we share.”
After high school Betts plans on taking a gap year before college to continue his training with his swim team and coach. This will include following an elite swimming circuit called the Grand Prix Series. These meets take place usually once a month November through June and get progressively faster leading up to Nationals.
“I think that getting this experience and getting ranked nationally on that level would be a great experience before going off the college.”
When he does enter college, he hopes to study International Business with a double minor in Mandarin Chinese and Spanish. Learning languages is a skill that comes easily to Betts and interests him greatly.
“I speak English, Spanish and French, and I’m currently learning Russian, Hindi and Chinese. I think that capitalizing on this by minoring in language and having a major that allows me to travel would be a perfect fit. My top college choice is University of North Caroline at Chapel Hill due to its exceptional swimming, beautiful location and impressive business program. I am also looking into Miami of Ohio as a second choice, as well as Boston University, William and Mary’s, and Ohio State.”
Between the demands of a rigorous academic curriculum through AP and honors classes and swimming six days a week, Betts doesn’t have much free time for other hobbies.
“I like to go out with friends on Saturday nights because I swim in the mornings that day, and on my free day on Sunday I like to spend time with my family. I spend most of my time with people in my swim circle because they keep a very similar schedule.”
Betts is passionate about swimming and commented that before the growing popularity of Michael Phelps and Olympic swimming, no one really knew what competitive swimming entailed.
“Most people thought that it was just people swimming back and forth in a pool. However, watching the Olympics, viewers, I think, really saw how hard swimming is and what it takes to be an exceptional swimmer. I like that swimming is now being seen as more of a respected sport.”
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