MOSES LAKE — The sign on the side of Noah Heaps’ home away from home reads, “Tony St. Onge Pool of Dreams.”
It’s been a place of refuge, a place where dreams begin to formulate, a place where life is good no matter what.
The Moses Lake senior will take his final swim at the Pool of Dreams on Saturday, and the Columbia Basin Herald sat down with Heaps to reminisce about the past and speculate on future dreams.
CBH: The 4A District 6 Meet will be your final swim at the Tony St. Onge Pool of Dreams. What are your thoughts about this pool and what it means to you?
Heaps: I hadn’t really thought about it until you brought it up. Swimming has been a big part of my life, for sure. As for my last swim in this building, I’ve put in a lot of sweat and dedication at this pool and I hope to make the best of my last swims.
CBH: You are a four-year Moses Lake varsity swimmer and a four-year state competitor during the school season. Is your high school career how you envisioned it would be?
Heaps: When I was 11 my parents gave me an ultimatum of either playing soccer or swimming. I decided to go with swimming and dedicate myself to doing it year-round. Swimming is all about speed — just you vs. the clock — and it’s a lot of fun to compete against yourself. I’ve improved every year and gone faster, so yeah I would say it’s everything I thought it would be.”
CBH: The sport is comprised of individual efforts for the good of all. What do you like about the individuality of swimming?
Heaps: With other sports, one guy can have a bad day and the team can still win. In swimming, if you’re having a good day, then it’s a good meet, If not, it’s a bad meet. The outcome is more in your control I guess.
CBH: Backstroke is your preferred stroke. You’re personal best is 53.71 seconds. What do you like about swimming face up?
Heaps: Backstroke is what I’m best at, but swimming other strokes helps you cross-train. If I swam only backstroke and not anything else, my muscles would be less developed. I don’t like breaststroke a whole lot, but it serves its purpose in development of upper body strength.
CBH: Moses Lake is a quality program and has produced its share of swimmers. What was it like your freshman season (2015-16)?
Heaps: My freshman year was a building year for us. All of the studs had graduated the year before. I was the only swimmer to qualify for the state meet in an individual event. I’ve been to state every year since. I think just getting to the state meet is definitely an accomplishment. I was able to make the 500 free finals my freshman year and I was excited about that. Now, it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, but to the freshman me it was.
CBH: You swam on the Moses Lake 400 freestyle relay that broke the existing record (3 minutes, 13.57 seconds) in the prelims last year at the Washington 4A state swimming and diving championships at Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center, then came back and crushed your own record with a time of 3:11.39. What was that experience like?
Heaps: The relays are a lot of fun and it gives me a chance to swim freestyle. What was really cool about the 400 relay last year was setting the record and breaking it again by three seconds. Everybody (Zach Washburn, Dylan Bond, Noah Heaps and Ander Molitor) swam their best. I think we have a chance to break that record again this year. In fact I think the 200 and medley relay records are going down this weekend.
Swimming is what he does. Maybe it defines who he is a little bit, but the Chiefs senior, who will pursue a degree in chemistry, is a multi-faceted kind of guy. He says the Rams are going to win the Super Bowl. He likes Washington Huskies football and considers himself a bandwagon Duke basketball fan.
His influences in the pool include American backstroke record holder and three-time Olympic gold medalist Ryan Murphy, Nathan Adrian, a five-time Olympic gold medalist, and of course Michael Phelps, the most successful and most decorated Olympian of all-time.
Heaps has one more weekend at Tony St. Onge Pool of Dreams and Columbia Basin swim fans can look for him to go out with a splash.