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Published: January 14, 2009 09:04 pm 

BOYS SWIMMING: GI's Carey not afraid of state meet

By Nate Beutel
Niagara Gazette

Evan Carey is a smart guy. He knows what happened when he reached high school swimming’s biggest stage last March.

“I fell apart mentally,” the Grand Island junior admitted recently. “I had never been to a meet of that caliber before. It was so intimidating.”

Just qualifying for the state meet was a big feat for Carey, who made rapid improvements throughout last season, culminating with an upset of Niagara-Wheatfield standout Lukas Shumway in the 200-yard individual medley at the Niagara Frontier League championships.

“He really came on at the end of last year and started to show some of the potential he truly possesses,” GI coach Rob Collard said.

But to take his game to the next level, Carey knew he had to be better mentally prepared and focused. So, he spent nearly his entire summer working with renowned Island club coach Phil Ciraolo.

“He used a lot of unique techniques that put me in situations that were out of my comfort zone,” Carey explained. “But it helped me realize that even when you’re not comfortable and you have some pressure on you, you still have to be able to perform your best.”

Collard said he can tell Carey has taken that message to heart.

“It’s an ongoing process, but he definitely recognizes the importance of (mental preparation and focus) and puts a great value on it,” the coach said. “His approach to racing and the NFL season has improved tremendously.”

There’s strong evidence to support Collard’s position as Carey currently holds the Niagara Frontier League’s top time in the 200 freestyle, 200 individual medley, 500 freestyle and 100 backstroke. For good measure, he’s second to North Tonawanda’s Scott Farrell in the 100 freestyle.

Still, with his eyes set on a return trip to states and an opportunity to deter his mental demons from a year ago, Carey is working harder and harder each and every day.

“I can still improve my form a lot, especially my turns,” Carey said.

And it’s that type of assessment that sets Carey apart from the rest of the pack, according to Collard.

“It all starts with what kind of work ethic you have and Evan’s is pretty darn solid,” he said. “He’s always looking to learn and grow as an athlete and that seems to translate into success for most.”