Evan Bader could swim the distance from Talawanda High School to his college of choice for next year and probably does so in practice.
The Talawanda senior signed letters of intent on Wednesday to swim for Miami University for the next four years with his sights set on appearing in the NCAA championships and the Olympics. The choice of Miami was easy for the life-long Oxford resident, who said the decision included a number of factors.
“I grew up a Miami sports fan, but that was not the only factor,” he said.
Bader said it was a combination of things that led him to choose Miami. It was being near home so his family could watch him at home meets, but he said the coaching, teammates, the university and academics all played into the decision.
He made a visit to the University of Maryland, but “Miami just stood out,” he said. “I’m excited my family can come to home meets.”
He is the son of Ann and Brent Bader and was born and grew up in Oxford.
He plans to be major in engineering “of some sort” and added, “That is my next big decision.”
Academics are important and he expects to get some academic scholarship help at Miami, in addition to the athletic grant in aid. He said he is currently number 1 in his class with a 4.3 grade point average.
He swims the 100 breaststroke and 200 Individual Medley for Talawanda with the 100 breaststroke his stronger event. He has appeared in the state championship meet in the event all three years, so far, improving each year. As a freshman, he did not place and took fifth place as a sophomore. Last year he finished third in the state.
The highlight of his high school career, so far, was last year’s finish.
“Last year at state I was third and stood on the podium in front of the crowd,” he said. “It’s a feeling like no other.
His goal for his senior season is to top that.
“I went from fifth to third. My goal is to make the jump to first,” he said, adding that improving last year’s time is part of this year’s goal. “I did it in 57.10 (seconds) last year and I want to go under 56. It will take a lot of training, but I will do it.”
He also appeared in the state championships last year as a member of Talawanda’s 200 Medley Relay team with Mason Davis, Ben Whiteman and Scott Richmond and with three of the four back this year, he hopes they can go to state again.
Talawanda Athletic Director Chris Weaver introduced Bader for the signing of his Letter of Intent saying, “This is a great moment for Evan and Talawanda. I look forward to seeing him locally.”
Weaver explained there were actually two letters of intent he was signing, the national letter of intent and one for the Mid-American Conference.
His high school coach Stephen Pasquale sat next to Bader for the formal signing and offered his congratulations.
“It is an incredible honor and he deserves it,” the coach said. “I’ve known him for seven years and this is not a surprise. I’m happy for him. This is a dream come true. I’m sad to see him go, but I’ll have him for one more season and I’m excited for what he will do for Miami.”
The athlete’s father, Brent, was asked if he had anything to say at the letter of intent signing and said simply, “I’m very proud of you, son.”
Bader’s lofty goals of a state championship for the end of his high school swimming career will carry over into college, as well.
“My goal is make the NCAAs (championships) and represent Miami University,” he said. “I want to make the Olympic Trial cut (next spring) and if I do not, then I want to go in four years. I missed the Trials cut by less than a second last summer.”
While work in the pool is Bader’s strength, he also has been involved in athletics on dry land as part of the Talawanda tennis team, playing for the varsity last spring and he plans to go out for the team next spring, as well. He also plans on making a try at the school’s Academic Challenge team this year.
“I want to try to branch out,” he said.
Swimming and tennis are not totally complementary, he said, but he has found one way the sports cross over.
“In swimming, you develop strong lat muscles and that helps you serve (in tennis),” he said. “I’m one of the hardest servers. Tennis starts right after the state swimming meet, so I do that for a couple months. It’s a nice break and then I go into swimming for the summer.”
But, swimming remains his strength and his passion. It’s a sport he started at age 4 as a member of the MAKOS swim club and the Oxford Swimming and Diving Team.
“I’ve been swimming year-round ever since,” he said.