Miller looks to maintain Boyertown’s distance tradition

BOYERTOWN — The distance freestyles have long been the strength of the powerful Boyertown boys swim teams. While the Bears’ depth is not quite there this year, the tradition is being carried on by Boyertown senior Steve Miller.

Miller surged to the top of the area’s best in the 500-yard freestyle (4:43.06) this season.

And when the District 1 Class AAA seedings came out last weekend they showed that Miller is also one of the best in District 1, earning the No. 2 seed in the 200 free, and third seed in the 500 free, making him the PAC-10’s highest distance free seed in the District 1 Swimming Championships, set for Friday and Saturday at the La Salle University Kirk Natatorium.

Miller was not there yet when the Bears boys came out of nowhere to capture their first District 1-AAA team title in 2010 with all of six swimmers. He didn’t hear veteran Boyertown coach Linda Jones screaming “We slayed the dragon’ after the Bears had slipped past loaded North Penn by winning the final event, the 400 freestyle relay.

But Miller knows all about the heros of that 2009-10 Bears team, most notably Jordan Hartman and Wesley Trumbauer.

This year, Miller has to feel a little bit like the Lone Ranger trying to keep the Bears reputation going (Boyertown senior Nick Savino is the only other Bear listed in the top 16 at 14th in the 100 breaststroke). Maybe that’s what has been driving him over these last few weeks.

“Definitely a little bit,’ Miller said. “Not so much that, as you put it, the lone ranger, but what drives me is that four years ago, when they actually won it, their times were team records. And those are the times I’m going for, I want to break. I want to be the best Boyertown had by getting our team records.’

Hartman holds the Bears’ 200-yard freestyle record, Trumbauer the 500 free record.

Miller was in eighth grade at Boyertown East Junior High School then, watching them from a distance, but already swimming on the Boyertown YMCA team where Jones is also the head coach.

“Coming into a program that just won the district championship definitely will motivate you to do even better the next year because you want to keep that success going,’ Miller said.

Jones certainly keeps the Boyertown swimmers motivated. Miller started swimming on Jones’ YMCA teams when he was 5.

“Swimming was the second sport for me up until my freshman year when I really started to focus in on training and doing well,’ he said. “Before that I was more focused on baseball. When ninth grade came around, I had a little more success in swimming and enjoyed it a lot more. But freshman year, I barely made districts in the 100 backstroke and that motivated me so much more to focus on swimming. Having that failure was an extreme disappointment for me. I did not want to have that again.’

The backstroke has become a thing of the past, giving way to the distance free.

“It’s kind of weird because I kind of changed between my freshman and sophomore year,’ he said. “I don’t know what it was. Linda just decided to swim me in the 200 and 500. I had success in those events and I kept swimming in them.’

Jones always seems to know what’s best. For Miller, obviously, it’s the distance freestyle as his seed times prove.

“I feel good about it,’ he said. “I’m expecting a good race and think it will help me with all my times. It would nice to have a team with lots of depth that could compete for districts. But this year we’re just going for best individual times, 100 percent across the board.’

But being a high seed makes him one of those marked swimmers to go after. And that adds pressure in living up to it.

“Being seeded in the top three is a bunch of pressure,’ Miller said. “But, then again, I’m not number one, so I’m going after someone, too. So I’m right in the middle there and have the ability to make a strike.’


In the District 1-AAA seedings only one other PAC-10 swimmer matches Miller’s No. 2 seed — Perkiomen Valley’s Wyatt Amdor is second in the 100 backstroke … Owen J. Roberts senior Sam Feiser is seeded third in the 50 free and 100 butterfly … On the girls side, Methacton’s Emily Sykes is the highest seed at fourth in the 100 breaststroke in Class AAA … The OJR medley relay team is seeded third … In Class AA, Pottsgrove senior Morgan Schreiber is the top seed in the 100 backstroke. Phoenixville’s Maddie Cooke is the top seed in the 50 free and the 100 breaststroke . … In District 3-AAA, set for this weekend at Cumberland Valley High School, Daniel Boone standout Ryan Owens is the area’s highest seed, where Owens is the top seed in both the 100 free and the 200 free.

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