Marysville-Pilchuck swimmer Durand is technically sound

MARYSVILLE — If it weren’t for teammate Brandon Caldwell, nobody would have any idea just how good of a swimmer Oliver Durand is.

“I pretty much owe everything to him,” said Durand. “He kept pushing me to try swimming.”

Of course, Durand and Caldwell — now seniors — were only fourth graders at the time, but it would be hard to imagine a better course for either of them.

The question isn’t whether the two of them will qualify for the class 4A state swim meet, but in how many events.

And while Caldwell helped M-P place in a pair of relays last season, it’s Durand who could vie for a pair of individual state titles.

Durand, who earned the distinction of being the first Tommie to post state qualifying times in every individual event, placed fifth in the 500-yard freestyle and sixth in the 200 free last season.

“I see myself as a distance swimmer,” said Durand, who said his strongest event is the 200 free.

“He’s right in the top,” said Marysville-Pilchuck coach Scott Knowles about where Durand fits among all the swimmers he’s coached in his 30 years. “Technically, he might be the best we’ve had.”

But it wasn’t always that way. Durand said while he started swimming around 8 years old, it didn’t turn into an obsession until junior high.

“It all just kind of clicked where that was all I wanted to do,” he said. “I quit riding my bike and doing the whole skateboarding thing.”

Knowles said that it takes more than just work to become such a racer.

“Some people can just race,” he said. “They can raise the bar when the competition gets tougher and that’s Oliver.”

That fire has helped Durand become a leader on the team.

“He’s the most inspirtational person on the team,” said teammate Drew Preston, who has swam with Durand for three years. “He encourages people, but he can also rip on them when they aren’t doing what they need to.”

Durand’s light side is shown by his haircut this year. In preparation for the state tournament he went in the completely opposite direction of last year’s mohawk with what he calls the culd a sac, shaving the middle of his head while leaving the rest in full growth.

It maybe just as easy now to spot the front-running swimmer outside of the pool.

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