QUESTION: Let’s start with last year. How did you feel about your performance at the state finals as a sophomore?
MARTIN: “I think I did pretty good. I made some mistakes that were technique-based. They weren’t based on how fit I was physically. It was just jitters. The state finals is a big meet. There’s a lot of people standing [on the pool deck] and a lot of people in the crowd. You have to get it under control. I was a little bit nervous. You always feel a little nervous before a swim, no matter where it is. It’s amplified at state, especially with people counting on you for relays.”
Q: Looking back at your relationship with Zach. Obviously, losing him has hurt the team. Has it helped free you up to swim more events? Were you sad to see him go? What’s the feeling about Zach now being at West Point?
MARTIN: “Mostly, we miss him. I’ve been training with Zach since I was in sixth grade under coach Keith [Gast] for Pacesetters, so we’ve always been on relays [together] for basically six years in a row. Not having him in the lane is a big difference, you can tell. It opens up opportunities for me, distance-wise. I can take over some of his events he swam and let some other people on our team swim the sprints and get some experience under their belt for sectional.”
Q: As well as losing Zach off last year’s team, you also lost your sister, Hanna. Have much how your sister being at practice and meets with you?
MARTIN: “Like any brother would miss his sister. I’m happy she’s doing really well at Youngstown. She has a full platter juggling academics and athletics. She was salutatorian [at Jeff] last year. She’s very smart. I miss having her around, joking with her, all that.”
Q: How do you feel the season has gone so far?
MARTIN: “It’s gone about how I expected. The addition of Karol [Schmuck] — our transfer student from Slovakia — has been a great boost to our team. I didn’t even know until the end of summer that he was coming. That has really opened us up on relays and opened up opportunities for me to swim different events. Really, he’s about as fast as I am in the lower distance freestyles for sprinting.”
Q: Personally, has the season gone as expected?
MARTIN: “Yeah, I’m really happy with the results and times I’ve gotten so far. In the 500, my best this season was a 4:42 a couple of weeks ago, which is a lot faster than I’ve ever gone before out of taper in the middle of hard training, so I’m very happy with the results I’ve gotten so far.”
Q: You won the conference and sectional as a team fairly easily last year. Is that what you’re expecting this year?
MARTIN: “You can never count on anything for sure. We’ll do well, like we have at conference and sectional most years. We’ll have good time drops. We’ll be up there and have a pretty good chance of winning this year.”
Q: How do you feel about your chances of getting Jeff’s first individual state championship since the legendary Ben Hesen?
MARTIN: “Personally, that is one of my goals. It’s always been a dream of mine to get a state championship under my belt. Top-8 is great, but I really, really want to get a first place. That will bring recognition to the school and the swim program and how hard Coach [Gast] has worked to get the swim team to the level it is now.”
Q: Will the events you swim in sectional be based upon the events you have the best shot at winning at state or will it be based upon how much you can help the team at sectional?
MARTIN: “We still have a couple more meets. When we get past conference, then we’ll make the decision between the 50 and the 500, because I can swim all four freestyle events. It just depends upon times at the next couple of meets.”
Q: Is the ultimate goal to qualify for Junior Nationals?
MARTIN: “That’s what I’m looking to do this year, yeah. That would put me on the same level as Zach.”
Q: What has the college recruiting process been like?
MARTIN: “I’m hearing from a couple of schools. They’re showing some interest in me. They’ll show a little more once their swim season is done and they can get to recruiting and looking at potential swimmers.”
Q: Can you give me an idea of which schools are most interested?
MARTIN: “IU, Kentucky, Louisville has had some interested. LSU has. Wisconsin. Several other small schools, like Wabash, and some other smaller Christian schools.”
Q: What will you base your decision on?
MARTIN: “It depends on what I want for a major. If they have that major and they’re a pretty good swim team, I’ll go there.”
Q: How did you wind up with the nickname T?
MARTIN: “That goes way back. I’m named Timothy Allen Martin II. I’m named after my father. When the name ‘Tim’ is called in the house, you get two responses. They just started to distinguish me as ‘T’ when I was younger. It didn’t help that I had an uncle named Tim and a cousin named Tim. The only option left was T, so they called me T ever since I can remember. I never remember being called anything else.”