Lake Central’s Luke Paprocki has been around pools all his life.
His mom signed him up for swimming lessons before he was in school. By the time he was in Kindergarten, he was a Barracuda in the Lake Central age group program.
“I quit other sports about fifth grade,” Paprocki said. “I knew that I wanted to be a swimmer.”
When he became a sectional champion last season, it became obvious that it was the right choice.
Paprocki came to the Indians as a divisional age group champion in the 200 individual medley, but was moved to the freestyle strokes before the first meet.
“Coach realized that I was good at the free,” Paprocki said. “He moved me to the 100 and 200 free events, and I’ve been there ever since.”
While he has “been there,” Paprocki managed to lead his team to a second-place finish in both the Duneland Athletic Conference and the Munster Sectional last season. He topped it off with his first sectional medal in the 200 free (1:46.19).
Paprocki also finished in the top four in both the 200 and 400 free relays at the sectional.
“Our team had a great postseason last year,” he said. “We accomplished more than most people thought we would. It’s always great to exceed expectations. We believed in ourselves, and then worked hard to achieve it.”
Head coach Todd Smolinski gave credit to Paprocki’s positive attitude and leadership as much as his physical ability.
“Luke brings quite a lot to the table for our team,” Smolinski said. “He has been a captain for the last two years. He takes the role very seriously. He’s always working with other swimmers, helping with attitude, encouragement, and stroke technique. He contributes a lot.”
Last season, Paprocki had to swim through an injury suffered early in the year.
“I twisted my knee, and had trouble pushing off,” he said. “I went through physical therapy and responded well. Then I tweaked it again at the conference meet.”
Paprocki was afraid he would miss sectionals.
“I had to take it easy and work through it,” Paprocki said. “It was touch and go for a while. But I felt better by the time sectional rolled around.”
Paprocki felt good enough to earn his first sectional title.
“That was an incredible, exciting time,” he said. “I went from not being sure I could participate to winning. Pretty cool.”
As a senior, Paprocki hopes to repeat his success.
“It would be great to repeat as champion,” he said. “I’d also like to see our team come out on top and go down to state.”
The Indians have had success so far this young season, winning two of their three conference dual meets. The schedule will get tougher, with meets against Chesterton and Munster looming.
But Paprocki and the Indians have been there, done that.
“We’re excited for the challenge,” he said.