By Jeff Robison Flyer Correspondent
Hendricks County Flyer
---- — For most college athletes, their sporting endeavors are not about becoming a professional or an Olympian. Rather, participation is more about self-satisfaction and enjoyment. But for Wabash College sophomore swimmer Joel Paquin, swimming has delivered individual successes and life lessons far beyond the pool.
Paquin, who graduated from Brownsburg in 2012, recently concluded his sophomore season positively, as he finished ninth in the 1650-yard freestyle at the North Coast Athletic Conference championships, helping Wabash to fourth place, one of its best finishes in the league meet. His 16:34.33 time has him within six seconds of overtaking the current school record for the mile.
While not currently in the Wabash record book, Paquin was part of one school record set earlier in the year with Zechariah Banks, Elliott Johns and Jack Belford in the 800-yard freestyle relay, a mark taken away since by teammates.
Paquin has become the team’s best distance swimmer and earned NCAC swimmer of the week in January after pacing the squad with individual wins in the 500 and 1000 against Illinois Weslyan. Three of Paquin’s times this year are ranked in top 10 school performances.
The Wabash program seems to be on the upswing, and Paquin has found it fits him well. While Paquin had chances to go for a higher collegiate swimming level, he opted for Division III at a school much closer to home.
“Wabash did a really good job recruiting and staying in contact with me,” Paquin said. “Division III just seemed like the best fit for me. I am higher up in the competition in D-III than I would have been in D-II, and that helps me with motivation.”
Paquin is not the only Hendricks County resident helping the Wabash program grow. First-year coach Brent Noble, a Terre Haute native, has chosen Brownsburg for his home, and may tap into the improving pool of county boys swimming talent to help Wabash develop further.
“These guys have been very receptive, and it has been an easy transition here — it has been a good fit for me,” Noble said. “Wabash is home now for me. And, if we can find guys that fit Wabash in Hendricks County, then all the better. I have been to some Brownsburg meets this year, and I will be at the state meet (looking for swimmers).”
Noble appreciates the work ethic that Paquin brings to the team.
“Joel is very receptive trying things, and that makes him fun to coach,” Noble said. “It is fun to have a conversation with him about how to attack a race, and then watch him do it exactly the way we talked and planned. As a distance swimmer, Joel is unique. He knows he needs to put in the work to be the best that he can be. Almost every meet, he has been our best in distance events.”
Swimming and studying at Wabash may not be for everyone, but it has turned into a good combination for Paquin, a chemistry major who has also earned the dean’s list for academics.
“A lot of (my success) has come from time management,” Paquin said. “Initially, I was not good at it when I got here. But, with up to 10 practices per week and at five in the morning, it forces you to not put off work or stay up late. And, once the season is over, the patterns stay with you, and that is a good thing.”
Paquin’s mom, Charlene, is proud of her son, and is enjoying watching him grow as a person. In fact, she learned something about her son from the quarterly Wabash Magazine in December.
“The Wabash swimmers teach swim lessons on campus to earn funds for their training trip to Florida every year over the holiday break,” Charlene said. “Joel knew he was in the magazine, but failed to tell us.”
The article featured pictures of Paquin working in the pool with a 2-year old girl named Coraline.
“It is a lot of fun to get in the pool with the kids,” Paquin said. “Even if it was not mandatory, I would still (give the lessons). My first time teaching, I could not handle younger kids. Now, I have learned with younger kids, the quicker you get them in the water, the better. You have to get the kids over being scared of the water and being scared of you. I am still learning how to teach, but this (experience) has covered a lot of ground (for me).”