This week's LaPorte Sectional is hardly an unwelcome sight for Chesterton junior swimmer Patrick Curley.
He won the 200-yard individual medley (1:58.79) and the 100 free (48.12) at the Duneland Athletic Conference meet less than three weeks ago in the same pool.
"It was unfathomable for me; I was pretty nervous," said Curley, whose Trojans won the meet by close to 200 points. "I knew I would have to step up and do whatever I could to win the races. I didn't know how close the meet would be, but I knew I would have to do what I could to win."
Classmate Blake Pieroni attended a USA National Swim Camp that week, and the reigning state champ in the 100 free and owner of this season's top time in the 200 IM missed the conference meet. Curley did more than step in Pieroni, turning in arguably his best performance as a prep swimmer.
"We knew he could handle the pressure," Chesterton coach Kevin Kinel said of Curley. "I think that had to be considerable lift for him. (The sectional) is now another step up. I'm sure he's excited about it."
Curley helped the 400 free relay team place ninth in the state meet last season, but this is his best chance to qualify for an individual event. He's less than a second the from the cut time in the 100 free (48.12) and just a little over a second in the 200 IM (1:58.79).
As long as he qualifies out of today's prelims, he'll have a spot in the championship heat with Pieroni.
"I know Blake is going to be fast; I just cannot get that far behind him, and I have to stay close," Curley said. "I don't think it's a big deal to swim with Blake; I do it every day. That will help, not hurt me."
The DAC wins were just another example of his coming-of-age season.
"I just started to take the sport more seriously this year," he said. "I kind of saw my potential at the intrasquad meet. I kind of flew then, and now I have gotten to where I am."
He has a chance to possibly win a state title in the 400 free relay — since he's on the squad that has the best time this year (3:05.53) — and also help the top-ranked Trojans win another team state title.
All of those plans start in LaPorte.
"It's definitely a huge confidence boost to come back here," Curley said. "I swam my best here, and now the conditions will be even better for me.
"I'm never going to forget this season."