BLOOMINGTON — Examine Lucas Williamson’s family tree and you discover the star swimmer who seemingly came out of nowhere actually hails from a blazing-fast brotherhood.
At University High School from 2008 to 2011, John Williamson was a three-time state runner-up and nine-time state medalist before swimming for Notre Dame.
Anthony Williamson, a freshman swimmer at the University of Indianapolis, was part of two state-placing U High relays.
“They set high standards for me,” says Lucas, a junior in his first season on Central Catholic’s squad. “They are really good role models. They always try to help me whenever they can.”
The 6-foot-3, 165-pound Williamson has helped himself to four school records. They’ve come in the 50-yard freestyle (22.54 seconds), 100 freestyle (48.64), 200 freestyle (1:47.94) and 100 butterfly (56.57).
Last week, Williamson became Central’s first Intercity champion when he captured the 100 free. The youngest of five brothers, he got serious about swimming relatively late in life. The summer after eighth grade he joined the Redbird Swim Club.
“I wasn’t really doing any sports at the time,” he remembers. “My brothers, Anthony and Johnny, were both really good at swimming. So I’m like, ‘I might as well try it over the summer.’”
Williamson tried it and liked it, especially the way hard work paid off. Now he is a threat to become the first state qualifier in the seven-year history of Central’s program.
“He’s stepped in and done whatever I have asked him to do,” said Coach Bill Rhodes. “He’s pretty humble about things, which I like. He’s a very good teammate. He’s got some good friends on the team. He’s been fun for the kids to have around.
“He hasn’t had what you’d call a bad race. He’s very consistent. Nothing seems to get him too high or too low.”
Williamson brings a calm demeanor to the starting blocks, but that's an act.
“I get extremely nervous depending on how many people are there and how much pressure is on me,” he said. “It usually ends up channeling into adrenaline and makes me faster.”
Williamson also has helped set school records in the 200 freestyle relay (1:36.84) and 400 freestyle relay (3:41.20).
“The relays are doing a lot better because they just needed that one extra person,” Williamson says. “They had three faster kids and couldn’t always find that fourth person. It’s nice being the one that fills in.”
This “fill in” views being on relays more like an honor than an obligation.
“I like them more than the individual events because I can participate with my team,” said Williamson, whose 200 free relay partners are Nick Barnes, Ben O’Meara and Chris Russell while the 400 free relay includes O’Meara, Russell and Cory Hundman.
For two years, Rhodes has known Williamson could help the Saints, but he wanted the star-to-be to choose his own path. When Williamson, who recently joined the Bloomington-Normal Swim Club, showed up for a Central Catholic team meeting in November, the writing for a storybook season was on the pool wall.
“The kids joke that he’s everything,” Rhodes said. “In reality, he makes everyone better. I can move them to different events that they might be better at.”
Rhodes’ emphasis on giving swimmers realistic challenges within a fun atmosphere has attracted an increasing number of participants. This year’s 26-man squad, the largest in school history, won Central’s third ever invitational at Urbana on Saturday.
“We’re not getting big because of freshmen,” Rhodes said. “A lot of the athletes want to play basketball. So they try that and when they realize that didn’t work out, they join. I get a lot of juniors and seniors who say ‘I’m not doing anything. The other kids said it was fun.’”
When asked why he came out, Williamson says, “It’s a really good team and I love the coach and all the other kids on the team. The atmosphere there is awesome.”
Williamson describes his coach as a positive person.
“I think he’s had a good impact on me," Williamson said. "It’s good to have someone positive around the pool and it makes swimming a lot easier. I look forward to practice more.”
Williamson also looks forward to swimming in college, a course taken by two of his brothers. Their path hasn’t steered him wrong yet.