For the Record: Perkiomen Valley’s Dix named 2014-2015 Mercury All-Area Boys Swimmer of the Year

Some great swimmers have come through Perkiomen Valley’s storied swimming program, but it would be hard to single out one quite as versatile as Kyle Dix.

Name any event, any stroke, and the Perkiomen Valley senior can swim a record time in it.

Ask him what his two main events are, and he will tell you the 50-yard freestyle and 100 free. However, unlike most swimmers, he likes to mix it up a bit.

The payoff was one heck of a year where he set team and pool records galore in multiple events.

First he set records in the 50 and 100-free and then he added a few more, rewriting the Vikings’ record books in the 200 free, 200 IM, 100 butterfly and 100 breaststroke. He also set records in a couple of other pools, too.

To go along with his record-breaking year — where he went undefeated in all of his individual meets during the regular season’s dual meets — Dix was also the area’s highest finisher in Class AAA at the District 1 and PIAA meets, highlighted by a fourth place finish in the 50 free (20.76) at the PIAA meet and two silver-medal finishes at districts (100 free in 45.84 and 200 free relay). He added a bronze medal at districts in the 50 free with a time of 21.17 before leading his 400 free relay to a fourth-place finish for a district medal count of four.

If that wasn’t enough, he also advanced to the PIAA consolation finals in the 100 free, placing 12th overall with a 47.14. He then anchored PV’s 200 free relay to its first ever PIAA-AAA relay medal with a seventh place finish (1:27.05), and additionally anchored the 400 free relay to a 17th place finish at states.

For that, Dix is The Mercury All-Area Boys Swimmer of the Year.

“Kyle has always been a phenomenal talent, but this year he worked him harder and got him even stronger than he had been in the past,’ PV head coach Brian Zeigler said. “He’s the heart and soul of the team. The season and his teammates were better because of how hard he swam and how talented he is.’

But for Dix, he deflected the praise. This season wasn’t about him or breaking records.

“Logan Thorneloe (also a Vikings senior) and I were the captains,’ Dix said. “Our approach all year was to set the example, so that hopefully, when we leave, we would leave the legacy of hard work, dedication to the team, and winning first for the team.

“It’s a cool experience to break those records and it slightly surprised me. It just wasn’t my concern during the season.’

During the course of the dual meet season, Dix set team records in nearly all the different events and strokes: the 200 free (1:43.07), the 200 IM (1:55.17, also a Perk Valley pool record), the 50 free (20.68, also a PV pool record), the 100 butterfly (51.83), the 100 free (45.84) and a PV pool record in the 100 breaststroke (58.90). That was coupled with away pool records: at Owen J. Roberts in the 200 free (1:43.47) and 50 free (21.19); at Coatesville in the 200 IM (1:56.41), and at Ursinus College (against Spring-Ford) in the 200 IM (1:56.58), the 50 free (21.37) and the 100 free (46.99).

“I really didn’t have any expectations for dual meets this year, other than for us to do our best to win as a team,’ he said. “As far as swimming individually, I didn’t think about it much during the dual meet season. I was thinking about the postseason and making sure we were winning. Team comes first. That’s what was in the back of my head the entire time.

“For me, the highlight of the entire season was how well my team finally did at states,’ he said. “That was the end goal of the entire season for me. It was great for me to swim faster and win some meets, But, really, the end goal was to place high at districts and states.’

Dix didn’t have to swim all those different strokes and events to make his team win. He just wanted to mix it up. Not many swimmers do.

“It’s pretty unusual,’ he said. “I’ve always had that kind of personality where I don’t like to stick to the same thing all the time. I like to change things up.

“I especially love the 50-yard freestyle, just because I can get it over and done with. And I like going really fast. Just absolute sprinting, all out, is what I like to do. But after you do it a hundred times, it can get a little bit boring and I definitely have to get away from it sometimes. I enjoy swimming the IM (Individual Medley) a lot. I also like the 100 fly a lot. Those aren’t even my best events. I just like mixing it up. And swimming all those different events is just natural for me.

“At the same time, my coaches did an amazing job preparing me to be able to swim every event since I was five years old. When you have such great coaches growing up, every event almost seems like your own. A great coach can prepare you to swim anything and turn you into a great swimmer overall. I had that from my coaches from when I was five years old and just starting out.’

Dix’s involvement with swimming started early.

When he was five, he along with his mom, Janet Dix, would watch his older sister Ashley (a former PV standout who swims at Bloomsburg University) until her practice was over.

From there, the competitive fire was lit.

“My sister got into swimming because my mom was a really good swimmer when she was younger and loved it,’ Dix said. “And she figured if she got my sister into it, it would be fun for her and she could have the same experiences that my mom had when she was younger.

“I was always, and still am, extremely competitive. When I saw Ashley swimming, I was like, ‘ I can do that.’ Of course, I really couldn’t. But I would hop in the pool anyway. That’s how I got started a couple of years after her.

“And I legitimately started from the bottom. I couldn’t even make it one lap during practice at first. My coaches, all my coaches, got me to where I am today.

‘Every time I would move up to a new level, from Skippack Dolphins to PVAC (Perkiomen Valley Aquatic Club), to the high school team, all the coaches knew each other, they all had similar coaching patterns. It made it really easy to get in the swing of things.’

And when veteran Vikings coach Jack Graham stepped away to devote more time to his baby twins prior to this season, it wasn’t really a big coaching change for Dix, since Graham’s longtime top assistant in Zeigler simply stepped up a notch to become the head man, making for a smooth transition.

“Coach Graham leaving wasn’t really out of the blue because I knew his twins meant everything to him and he was trying so hard to be a good father,’ Dix said. “And coach Brian was already in the swing of things long before Mr. Graham left. It was a very smooth transition.’

Smooth for the swimmers as well as for Zeigler.

“I’ve been a part of Perk Valley swimming since 2002, knew the culture,’ Zeigler said. “I knew what we did and how we did it, knew when we’ve been successful and when we haven’t. So I was able to build a lot of our plans for this year on what’s worked in the past and what didn’t work.

“The easiest way to structure a plan is to build your workouts towards your best swimmer. You have to challenge your best swimmer. By doing that, it challenges the rest of the swimmers. Our group of boys that are graduating this year have always been fueled by Kyle. And they were able to succeed because he was successful.’

And that was highlighted by the Vikings’ first ever PIAA-AAA medal in the 200 free relay.

“When the kids finished the prelims and we found out we got eighth and made it to the finals, that’s when we started to celebrate,’ Zeigler said.

“I’ve been to 12 state meets with Perk Valley, and that day, Friday, March 13th, was the best states day in Perk Valley history. Everybody was happy.’

It was the culmination of a fine year for the senior that started with the four-year member of the water polo team being named Mr. Water Polo along with North Penn’s Brad Ellis last fall.

Now that’s mixing it up.

“Again, my sister was a really good water polo player,’ he said. “She was first team all state goalie. So my entire middle school years I was watching her play. And I was always fascinated watching the boys play, seeing the differences in the games, thinking how fun it would be to just hop in there and learn how to play. There was no question in my mind that my freshman year I was definitely going to play water polo. I have some really long arms, so that helped along the way.

“Sprinting down for a counter attack in water polo came pretty naturally just from swimming so much. And treading for water polo helped my legs tremendously for my kick. They really did both help each other and it was very beneficial to do both.’

Now, with college looming near, Dix has filled his summer plans by swimming for the Skippack Dolphins for his 13th straight year.

For college, he’s going to swim. Where, however, is still up in the air.

But is he starting to feel a bit sentimental about leaving PV?

“I’m not sad about this being my last season and my last year performing here, I’m more proud that I got the opportunity just to represent Perkiomen Valley so well,’ he said. “I look back and recognize that I had so much fun with my friends and family here, that I really can’t be sad. It brings a smile on my face just thinking about what great of a time we had the past four years.’

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