At six-years-old, Sean Mebust joined the swim team at The Clark Sports Center because, his mom Lynne Mebust said, he had too much energy and not enough after-school activities.
Swim practice, she noted, was one of the few activities in the area that met every day. Mebust who turned 17 on Jan. 8, (same birthday as Elvis, he points out), has been at swim practice, more or less ever since, and those 11 years of effort have paid off for him and his Cooperstown team.
Jan. 24, at the Frontier League Championships at Rome Free Academy, Mebust broke the CCS 100 freestyle record with a time of 48:93.
With his brother Ted, Michael Kern and Ian Robinson as anchor, the team placed first in the 200 free relay breaking another school record and coming close to achieving the fastest time in Section Three this season.
It has been that kind of season for Mebust and his teammates, as they break record after record.
Mebust and Robinson have been back and forth, breaking each other’s school records in the 100 and 50 freestyle, (currently Robinson holds the 50 record) this season, and their rivalry within the team has only helped contribute to the Hawkeyes’ undefeated season in dual meets, 8-0.
“Ian and I spend a lot of time together swimming since we’re both on the varsity team and the Sharks,” Mebust said. “We really push each other. I definitely couldn’t see myself swimming the times I am now, if he wasn’t on the team.”
Although Mebust plays soccer in the fall and runs track in the spring, swimming is his favorite sport, he said. He still competes for the Clark Sharks, too, meaning he is in the pool most of the year.
“It came gradually,” he said. “I thought the practices were fun, and I had a lot of friends on the club team. Then in eighth grade when I made the CCS varsity team, I started getting a lot more yards, putting in a lot more practices. That’s when I started getting to the level I’m at now.”
The record board at The Clark shows that a healthy percentage of the records are held by two swim families: Mebust boys and Griger girls.
The friendship between the families started even before the swimming connection existed, with both families living in Bassett’s residency houses, and collectively having seven young children.
Kristen Griger became a coach for the Sharks and her daughters Cassidy, Eden, Tessa and now Delilah have all become competitive swimmers.
Even after high school, the Mebusts and the Grigers find themselves swimming in the same pool. The oldest child in each family, Cassidy Griger and Erik Mebust are swimming at New Paltz and Geneseo, respectively, and the schools met in a dual meet on Jan. 31.
As for coaching Sean, Kristen Griger said she had only positive things to say about him.
“Sean is such a talented athlete and wonderful young man,” she said. “I have been Sean’s coach for 10 years and have enjoyed watching him mature into the poised athlete and special young man that he is today. His talents certainly lie in the pool but he is equally talented in academics, and music, (he plays sax). He’s a Cooperstown quiz team member, and he participates in several community serving groups.”
CCS boys swim coach Cheryl Rock is equally complimentary, pointing out that although Mebust is very competitive within the team, when it comes to school meets, he’s a team player.
“I could go on and on about Sean Mebust,” she said. “He works so hard. He’s really is a team leader. He and Ian are both trying to beat each other’s times, but through it all, Sean really cares about the team, and is concerned about everyone’s times.
“I really enjoy coaching the Mebusts,” she continued. “I coached (Erik) and Sean, and now, Sean and Ted. They’re all really good kids. I have never put them in the same event, because I need to spread them out, but one thing is very clear. They all love the sport. Sean is very competitive. I’m sure colleges will start calling about him when they can.”
Mebust relishes competing with his brothers. They get along well, he said, but once in the pool, it does become competitive, he said.
“It’s good for me,” he said, “with Ted, especially. When you’re older, you never want your little brother to beat you. And, with Erik, I was always trying to catch up. So, being in the middle, it works both ways.”
Ted recently broke Erik’s CCS record in 100 backstroke, but at least the last name remains the same.
At 6-foot-5, Sean’s long legs are helpful kicking off the starting block. He said Erik has helped him recently discover the weight room, and taught him weight work outs that translate best to the pool.
During these next taper-down weeks before sectionals, Mebust said he will pay careful attention to his diet, eliminating junk foods and focusing on healthy eating.
As Griger noted, Mebust is well rounded, with music, science and the quiz team being his favorite other pursuits.
“I’ve been playing sax for a while in the concert band, and now I play in a jazz band too,” he said. “We have a great teacher, (Tim) Iversen, and he is really helpful. He got me into playing jazz and now I really enjoy it.”
Mebust and Cooperstown will go to sectionals and state qualifiers this month. Mebust and Robinson have been trying to post state-qualifying times. Mebust is also trying to qualify for a USA Swimming meet, the Speedo Sectionals.
“I am certain that he can achieve anything he puts his mind to and I am honored to support him every step of the way,” Griger said.
There will be a lot more hours in the pool and a lot more days at meets, but Mebust said he doesn’t mind.
“There’s a lot of work involved, but swimming is my favorite, and there are a lot of rewards, too. It’s definitely not easy, but I think it’s worth it,” Mebust said.