Austin Mortimer is known for his endurance in long swim events in competition at different levels.
The Franklin Regional senior has made his mark for the Franklin Regional High School team, as well as his Franklin Area Swim Team club squad at the local, state and national levels.
Last week, on the first day of the National Letter of Intent early signing period, Mortimer made his decision final to continue his swimming and his academic pursuits at Division I Ohio State University.
“Along with a great team dynamic, world-class coaches and new facilities, I see myself growing here as both a student-athlete and as a person,” said Mortimer, who plans on majoring in business with a concentration in business finance.
“Right now, the men’s swim program is ranked high in the nation.”
The Buckeyes were ranked 12th in the latest College Swimming Coaches Association of America poll released Nov. 13 and have started 5-0 in dual meets.
Six teams in the Big 10 are ranked in the top 25, and Michigan (No. 2) and Indiana (No. 8) are the only teams from the conference ahead of Ohio State in the national poll.
Mortimer will continue his distance swims at Ohio State.
“I learned quickly that my shorter stature would benefit me more in longer-distance events,” he said.
“For distance, height is not as much of a factor.”
Endurance, including keeping technique consistent, is the key to distance swims, he said.
Mortimer swam for Franklin Regional as a freshman, and he achieved a WPIAL-qualifying time in event individual event.
He advanced to states in the 200 IM, the 500 free, the 200 free relay and the 400 free relay and made the state finals in the 200 IM and the 200 free relay.
Mortimer made the tough decision after his freshman season to not swim for Franklin Regional but continue with his distance swims at FAST.
“I’ve trained with FAST all my life,” Mortimer said.
“Due to my longer events like the mile, the 1,000 and the 400 IM — those aren’t in the high school lineup — I had to make a decision to commit to those for the next couple of seasons.”
He has trained in those events for FAST throughout the year.
“It was a really hard decision to make to not swim with my friends on the high school team, but everyone understood,” Mortimer said. “It worked out best for everyone.”
Mortimer achieved top-10 national rankings for his age group in the 1,650 free in 2011 and the 1,000 free in 2013.
He competed at the 2013 Summer Junior Nationals in Irvine, Calif., in the 1,500 free, the 400 free, the 200 free and the 200 backstroke.
Mortimer also competed at the 2013 Winter Junior Nationals in Greensboro, N.C., in the 1,650 free, the 500 free, the 200 IM and the 400 IM.
The high school swims are measured in yards, while the club swims for events such as Junior Nationals are measured in meters.
Mortimer’s swimming and his leadership qualities have made a mark with FAST head coach Lucas Marsak, who coached Mortimer for a little more than a decade.
“I am really proud of him,” Marsak said. “He’s put forth so much effort and discipline year in and year out. It’s been great to be able to see that progression over the past 10 years or so. To go to a Division I school and be able to compete at a high level is a great opportunity for him. I think he’s going to thrive.
“He’s always led by example. He’s always shown what is possible through his performances and commitments to swimming, from always being at practices, qualifying for junior nationals and setting team records. The way he’s been fully committed has elevated what is possible for our program.”
Mortimer now swims for the Jewish Community Center Sailfish club team.�
Michael Love is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-388-5825 or at [email protected].