Dion Low loves spending time in the water, but it doesn't take a swimming race to gain the Valparaiso senior's interest.
Low also enjoys to scuba dive, and he took part in an advanced marine biology class at the high school as a junior. One of the perks was a research trip to Florida this past offseason.
"I gained a lot of hands-on experience," said Low, who's qualified for the IHSAA state swimming finals on two different occasions. "Getting your hands in the water is field work you just cannot get in the classroom.
"It also helped me look at divergent problems or scenarios and try to adapt to them."
Low placed 10th in the 200-yard individual medley and 15th in the 100 breast in the state finals as a sophomore, but he had to adapt to missing the state swimming finals last season. Low was under the state-cut times in the sectional preliminary rounds of the 100 breast (57.1) and 200 IM (1:56.71). Unfortunately for Low, his times ballooned to 1:58.44 and 1:00.47 in the championship round. He finished second in the IM and fourth in the breast. Not only did he not qualify by winning an event, he missed the state standards.
"The end of the year was rough for me," Low said.
But Low, who is in the top 5 percent in his class academically, took a scientific approach to the situation.
"It was just one of those off days for me," Low said. "I've went back and looked at my training as a whole, and I've been able to target some things.
"I definitely found what I was looking for."
First-year coach Adam Nellessen also found a leader for his team.
"What happened last year was just something for him to digest and learn from," said Nellessen, who was an assistant coach last season. "He kind of caught in the moment, and it just kind of derailed him. He's become a much-better swimmer for it.
"He plays a huge role for us. You cannot say enough about it, because he takes the important steps. He pays the price of what it takes to be a good swimmer. Our goal is to produce great men, and he exemplifies what we want."
Outside of scuba diving, Low did spend offseason time preparing for his final prep swimming campaign. Low said he had some of his lowest long-course times of his career, and he looks forward to this season.
"My training is getting up there, and I'm experiencing some new training styles," Low said. "It's looking good going into the season."
Low is unsure about swimming in college, because he wants to focus first on his possible career as a bio-mechanical engineer. Just another part of his grounded approach to life.
"Bio-mechanical is kind of newer area, and it incorporates biology, physics and chemistry," Low said. "I would like to swim, but my course schedule is going to be rigorous. I'd have to find a balance."