NORMAL — Athletes trying to discover the sport they’re best suited for usually face a trial-and-error process.
That wasn’t the case with Harrison Fudge.
When the University High School star started swimming at age 4, it was clear he belonged in the breaststroke.
Flash forward to the present and we find the senior has committed to accept a scholarship from the University of Wisconsin.
“You can tell if someone is a breaststroker by the way their feet are angled,” explains Fudge, the fastest 100-yard breaststroker in Pantagraph area history with a best of 58.27 seconds. “My feet are angled out pretty far. I can move them out really far.
“It’s been my thing since I started swimming.”
Fudge put his foot on the accelerator last season while placing 15th in the state meet 100 breaststroke. He also finished 33rd in the 200 individual medley in 1:56.71 and handled the breaststroke leg on U High’s 22nd-place state 200 medley relay, which sped 1:38.48.
When Fudge was learning to swim at Rob Knight’s Swim America, coaches awarded stickers for each skill he mastered.
“One of the stickers was butterfly kick, which is the dolphin kick, and then breaststroke kick,” he said. “I got the breaststroke kick down, but I could not get the butterfly kick down so they cut the sticker in half.”
In college, Fudge expects to stick with the 100 and 200 breaststroke events and the individual medley. His goal for the coming season is simply to get faster.
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“My long course times are really good, but my short course times are lackluster because I’m better at the swimming part, but not as good with the underwaters and the wall part,” he said.
Fudge comes from a swimming family. His mother, Dawn, is the Normal West girls swim coach.
“I joke around and complain about it, but it’s nice having someone at home who kind of understands,” said Fudge, who admits he's occasionally feels burned out about swimming. “When I have teammates and I’m motivated, I always have a great time.”
Fudge, who competes for the Bloomington-Normal Swim Club in the offseason, chose Wisconsin because of the positive team vibe he found there.
“That’s a big thing for me," he added, "especially at U High."
Fudge, who will sign a national letter of intent in November, hopes to enroll in Wisconsin’s nursing school after his sophomore year.
Fudge will join a growing number of Intercity swimmers in the Division I ranks.
“It will be great seeing so many people from town at meets because there are a huge number of people from our area going to big schools," he said. "That’s going to be fun."
Fudge felt he fit in at Wisconsin.
“For one, it’s really the team aspect and the environment of the school and how close (knit) it is and how big it is in sports," said Fudge, who also considered Denison, Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Miami of Ohio. “I really like the coaching staff and they see potential in me."