By Gideon Rubin
Garrett Schmid first took up swimming a few years back as a way to boost his strength and stamina for competitive soccer. He immediately took a liking to the pool.
“I’ve always loved the beach so I was a fairly good swimmer and it was fun,” Schmid said.
These days, Schmid no longer competes on dry land.
Just three years removed from the local rec. soccer circuit, Schmid has come out of nowhere to emerge as one of the area’s most dominant prep swimmers.
Schmid, who will be a Canyon Crest Academy junior later this year, is coming off a breakout year. He was named the Palomar League’s Swimmer of the Year — an honor typically reserved for upperclassmen — after winning league championships in two events.
Schmid clocked a 1:57.05 to win the 200-meter individual medley and won the 100 backstroke in 53:28.
He was an All Palomar League First Team selection and named CCA’s Most Valuable Swimmer. He was also named to the Palomar League’s All Academic Team.
“I really liked improving,” Schmid said of transitioning to competitive swimming. “I got better and better and seeing my results was pretty fun. I enjoyed it and I’ve been swimming ever since.”
Schmid’s first breakthrough came in at a novice-level USA Swim-sanctioned meet. Competing in the “C” group, Schmid won two of the three events he swam just a year out from his first lessons.
Schmid was hooked right away.
“It was the slowest (group) but I didn’t really know it at the time and I won a lot of events so it was really fun,” he said. “After that I realized I’m a good enough swimmer to swim year-round. Just that one meet brought everything together.”
Schmid, who has a 4.0 GPA, receives high marks for coachability, work ethic, and commitment to balancing swimming and academics from his Pacific Athletic Club coach, Michael Galindo.
“It's pretty rare that we get swimmers at that age who are able to be open-minded to different techniques and different ways of doing things,” Galindo said. “A lot of times the older they get the more set in their ways they are and they don’t want to change things.
“Garrett’s coming in later in the sport and having an open mind has definitely been an advantage and will continue to be an advantage for him down the road.”
Schmid acknowledges that his more experienced competitors have certain advantages, but he believes that competing in a sport that still feels fresh and new has benefits too. He insists that his enjoyment of the sport is one of the biggest pluses.
“I think it’s an advantage and a disadvantage,” he said of his late-comer status. “The people who have been swimming longer don’t enjoy the sport as much because they almost get like burned out, but I’m not used to all the events yet and so the other guys might have an advantage.”
But Schmid is leaving nothing to chance. He trains daily, averaging 15 hours a week in the pool.
Schmid aims to compete at the collegiate level, but next on his to-do list is qualifying for Junior Nationals, something he hopes to accomplish this summer.
“It’s been a dream to go to Junior Nationals so that would mean a lot to me,” Schmid said.
It was also mean a lot to his college prospect status going into his junior year, Galindo said.
“I think that’s a great benchmark for him,” Galindo said.
But it is an early benchmark in the career of a swimmer that Galindo says has great potential.
“He’s definitely just scratching the surface as to what he’s capable of,” Galindo said. “He’s still focusing a lot on technique and just beginning to get into strength training. Adding those things in with a little more volume and I think down the road he’s going to hopefully be set up [to reach his goals].”
For his part, Schmid is the first to admit that his journey to a successful swimming career couldn’t be more improbable.
“I never really expected any of this,” Schmid said. “It was just some conditioning classes that brought me into this. We played some games in the pool and pretty much that brought me into all of this, I’m really glad it happened.”