It takes dedication to become a really great swimmer. And not many 10-year-olds have the drive to work as hard as Lance Godard does.
But all of Lance’s hard work, practicing five to six days a week, swimming over 3,000 meters a day and cutting out junk food completely, has paid off.
Godard, Lee’s Summit, was crowned the No. 2 overall boys swimmer for the age 10 and under category in the Missouri Valley Central Zone meet held Aug. 2-4 in Topeka, Kan.
“I was the only one on my team who got that,” Lance said. “And there were two people from the same team that got first and third.”
What makes his overall place so impressive is that Lance had to swim against the top swimmers from 11 states in the central region, from Oklahoma to Minnesota.
“We were so proud of him,” Lance’s mother Kathryn said. “He did a great job. He worked really hard to get to that point and it really paid off. It made it so exciting. It was a great way to end the summer.”
There are four large meets in the nation at the end of the long course (outdoor meters) season for ages 14 and under in USA swimming. They are split into four zones, East, two Centrals, since the zone encompasses 25 states, and West.
To qualify for the Zone meets, each swimmer has to make a certain national standard time at a previous meet, which can include Districts, such as Missouri Valley.
“It’s the biggest meet he can go to as a 10-year-old,” Kathryn said of zone. “All of the big meets are open if you have those times. There are national age standards. Every 10-year-old has to have a certain time to qualify. It doesn’t matter where you live.”
But Lance didn’t qualify for Zone in just one event, but eight different events. Zone meets only allow swimmers to compete in six events though, so Lance chose to swim in the 100-meter freestyle, 50-meter butterfly, 200-meter IM, 100-meter backstroke, 200-meter freestyle and 100-meter butterfly.
Lance earned first or second in all six of the events, even though he was seeded as low as No. 6 on one of the events. In the 50-meter butterfly, he took first with a time of 35.08 seconds, in the 100-meter backstroke, finished first with a time of 1 minute, 16.31 seconds and in the 200-meter freestyle, first with a time of 2:26.39. He took second in the 100-meter freestyle with a time of 1:07.84, second in the 200-meter IM with a time of 2:43.56 and second in the 100-meter butterfly with a time of 1:14.72.
“I felt good,” Lance said. “I wasn’t expecting to do that good. I was expecting to get into the top five or four or three, but not one or two. I was only expecting to win one.”
Lance knew he could capture first in the 100-meter backstroke, his favorite event. He also holds the Missouri Valley record for the 100-meter backstroke, one he set in Districts, then broke again in the Zone meet.
“I do good in it,” he said. “It just started to come together and it just started to get good. That was the stroke I wasn’t as good at before and now I”m good at it. Now I have to work on my breaststroke.”
Lance said he took second in the IM because he fell behind three seconds on the breaststroke leg.
“I beat him in everything else in the IM, but he caught up on the breast,” he said.
Lance will figure it out, just like his dedication has gotten him his success so far.
“He is pretty dedicated,” Kathryn said. “He had a strict diet going into it, had to have good sleep and worked hard in practice.”
His diet, overseen by his father Michael, who has a doctorate in nutrition and exercise, included cutting out all junk food and loading up on carbohydrates, such as pasta and bread.
“It was too much health food,” Lance said. “I had to give it all up for a month.”
Lance has only been swimming competitively for four years and was inspired by older brother Grant, 13, to start the sport.
“Two years after he started, I wanted to start swimming,” Lance said.
Lance likes to win and loves to race. In practice, he swims a couple of days a week with the older age group, such as his brother. He said he keeps up with the older kids, usually ending up in the middle of the pack.
And now that he has all those wins from Zone under his belt, Lance will start training for his next season, the short course (yards) indoor that starts in September. He hopes he can qualify for the big national meet slated for February in Florida.
“I already qualified some times for it,” Lance said. “It’s a little higher than zones.”
“He will get those times,” Kathryn added. “At this age, this would be the biggest meet. He is very goal-oriented.”
Before that though, Lance is taking part in the Hy-Vee IronKids US Championship Aug. 31 in Des Moines, Iowa, where he will swim 150 yards, bike for four miles and run for one mile.
“I’m still thinking about it,” Lance said. “I hate swimming in lakes. I have to have a pool.”