MUNSTER | The view can be picturesque. An canvas of opal blue. Maybe a smattering of clouds. A hot California sun.
But with most of the stars washed out, the daytime sky is not much of a navigational map for those traversing the waterways. That's why backstroker Wilson Beckman sometimes feels lost at sea.
"When you swim indoors, you can usually track where you're at by looking up at the ceiling tiles," Beckman said about competing in the backstroke. "You obviously don't have that guidance swimming outdoors."
Beckman learned that last summer when he qualified and competed at the Junior Nationals Swimming Championships held in Irvine, Calif., held at the William Woolett Jr. Aquatics Complex.
Beckman will return to the Junior Nationals with fellow Munster High School junior Nikki Smith, both of whom had strong showings at the Speedo Sectional Meet held March 14-16 in Pleasant Prairie, Wis., as part of a group of seven qualifiers representing the Munster Swim Club.
At the sectional, Beckman took second in the 200 back, third in the 200 free and fifth in the 50 back. As for Smith, she broke a 22-year-old Indiana Association record while winning the 200 butterfly with a time of 1 minute, 59.41 seconds.
Several weeks before, Beckman took second in the 100 back and fifth in the 100 freestyle at the Indiana High School Swimming Championships.
"I definitely want to leave here with a (high school) state championship," Beckman said of his goals for the next school season. "That should be the goal of any senior after finishing runner-up as a junior."
While MSC's Senior team was in Pleasant Prairie, its Age Group team competed at the Indiana Age Group Championships at the IUPUI Natatorium in Indianapolis.
"The team swam extremely well toward the end of the season," MSC head coach Matt Lee said the Age Group squad, which qualified 75 swimmers and placed ninth overall.
The club's top finish was the 10-and-under boys 200 free relay team of Mike Dempsey, Jordan Spilde, Kenneth Reed and Scott Robbins with a runner-up time of 2:02.05.
The following weekend (March 22-23) at Purdue University, MSC's Masters team won the 2014 Greater Indiana State Championship. Those individual champions representing MSC included Barb Bolda, Bryan Buksar, Jon Lowell, Clint Marshall, Lisa Ross, Cathy Sahn, Nikki Saulters and Dan Zlatic.
"This is only our third year since starting the Masters program," Lee said, "so winning something like this is a big deal for us."
The Masters swimmers generally swim year-round. As for the Senior and Age-Group swimmers, they're in the midst of an extended spring break before the start of the spring/summer season.
Lee recently conducted one-on-one meetings with returning spring/summer Senior swimmers in preparation for the next session.
"The summer season is so condensed that you want to make sure goals and training plans are already set before we get into the water again," Lee said.