Ethan Whitaker has dreamed about life in the U.S. Navy for quite some time, but he never gave much thought about being a top-notch swimmer.
Pending a congressional appointment, both will come to fruition for the Chesterton senior.
Whitaker placed second in the IHSAA state finals in the 200-yard free and third in the 500 free last season.
He also plans to compete for the U.S. Naval Academy's swimming team.
"It's about a 99-percent guarantee," said Whitaker of his possible admission to the academy. "Ever since I was a kid, there was always the allure of partaking in an adventure. I've looked into being an officer and making it a career.
"Part of it also is that (water) is my turf."
Before his freshman season at Chesterton, Whitaker was unsure of his ability as a swimmer. Older brother Kyle won 12 state titles and was a part of the Trojans' first two state championship teams.
"I'd watch Kyle from the stands, and I was astonished how fast everyone was swimming," said Ethan, who helped the Trojans win their third state crown last year. "I never thought I would be close to that level."
According to the state coaches association's preseason swim poll, Ethan has the quickest returning times in the 200 and 500 free.
Older siblings Kyle and sister Talor, along with twin brother Aaron, already have state individual titles, but Ethan doesn't feel the pressure to try to join that class.
"Winning state is up there as a goal, but it's not the biggest deal for me," Ethan said. "I'm swimming to get good times. I'm thinking about being a Division I athlete, and I have to put together solid times."
Ethan didn't qualify for state as a freshman. A season later, he was eighth in the 500 free and 13th in the 200 free. Ethan's performances jumped by leaps and bounds again last season.
"He started to kind of feel at home (in the distance events), and we needed him there," Chesterton coach Kevin Kinel said. "It's been really fun to watch (Ethan) develop as a swimmer."
Kinel is also a fan of Ethan's approach.
"He's absolutely his own person," Kinel said. "He just goes about his own business, and he's not pressured by what (his siblings) have done.
"He's also willing to work for it. He didn't expect anything to be handed to him because of his name."
With or without an individual state title, Ethan's future course appears to be set. He said the Naval Academy is one of the top 10 aerospace engineering schools in the nation, and he hopes to be able to design planes.
"It's just been an evolution," Kinel said of Ethan. "As his swimming has gone up, his grades have gone up. His confidence then shot up, and it's all gone hand in hand. (Being around him) has been very rewarding for me."