Andy Hurst loves being in the water, whether the Chesterton junior is braving last Sunday's bitter weather to surf Lake Michigan with father Charles or doing laps in the high school pool.
Freshman sister Abbey is on the Trojans' girls team, while their father competes in masters swimming events.
"Swimming is what allows me to be able to do so many things," Hurst said. "It's a part of my family and I enjoy it."
Hurst is also enjoying a breakout season for the state's top-ranked boys team.
His 4:49.14 in the 500-yard free is the 11th-fastest time posted on the state swimming coaches web site this season. His 54.79 in the 100 back is the 15th fastest.
What brings greater joy to Hurst is that he's the back leg in the 200 medley relay, which has the state's fastest-posted time of the season (1:35.04).
"It's really rewarding to see yourself going faster," Hurst said, "but it's better to have an even-greater part of what is happening with this team."
Hurst was third in both the 200 IM and 500 free at last year's sectional. He was sixth in the 200 IM as a freshman.
The Duneland Athletic Conference meet is Saturday at LaPorte. Hurst was second in the 200 free and fourth in the 200 IM.
Chesterton coach Kevin Kinel said Hurst's role has changed.
"He's kind of waited his turn," Kinel noted. "He's always been a talented swimmer. Before, he was more of a depth guy for the team. He's turned into a pretty darn good individual and relay swimmer for us.
"He's now a huge part of what we're doing."
Hurst is part of a class which includes defending state 200 free champion Blake Pieroni, Aaron Whitaker (third in the 100 fly/back), Jack Wallar (fifth in the 100 breast) and Ethan Whitaker (eighth in the 500 free).
Hurst now feels like a more-competitive part of the lineup.
"I grew up through age group with these guys, so I haven't been used to first places (in individual events)," said Hurst, who started swimming at age 7. "I never thought about quitting. We've become friends, and I just cannot cut myself away."
This weekend's DAC meet will give Hurst a taste of what prize might be down the road, a first-time event appearance at the state meet.
"It's plausible," Hurst said. "It's not going to be an easy ride, but I'm so close to getting there. It will be very special to me; something I can enjoy the rest of my life."