03/30/08 — News-Argus Swimmer of the Year: Mason Chenier

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News-Argus Swimmer of the Year: Mason Chenier

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on March 30, 2008 2:04 AM

Awards can do nothing to describe it because no other physical activity works the same way.

Burning muscles.

Constant ear aches.

Zero hours sleep.

That's life as a high school swimmer and no one knows the rigorous grind better than Eastern Wayne junior Mason Chenier.

Three days of weight lifting.

Each daily session includes a pool workout. In terms of yardage, Chenier and his teammates swim between 8,000 and 10,000 yards some days and up to 20,000 -- which is equivalent to a 121/2-mile run -- at other times.

And it's not just diving off the edge of the pool and swimming from end to end. The group concentrates on different strokes and various training implements, which make the lengthy swims more challenging.

Eastern Wayne coach Sidney Myers devised the regimen and Chenier is thankful. He's used those tools to become one of the school's most-accomplished swimmers on the state, regional and national level.

Chenier recently defended his 50- and 100-yard freestyle titles in the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 3-A swimming championships. He emerged the first-ever, four-time state champion in Wayne County history.

"I attribute a lot of my success to coach Myers and the workouts that he comes up with," said Chenier, who has been named the 2007-08 News-Argus Swimmer of the Year. "We don't always know why we do the things we do, but everything that he puts us through has a reason."

Chenier's pain has been fruitful.

"I really appreciate all of the awards and things, and I'm truly honored, but there are still things to work on and things to accomplish," said Chenier, who earned the Eastern Carolina 3-A male swimmer of the year award.

Next on the schedule is a trip to the YMCA National Championships in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Chenier plans to compete in the 100-yard butterfly.

"I haven't had a cut and tapered time in the 100 butterfly in a while, so it will be interesting to see how it goes," said Chenier.

The event in Ft. Lauderdale will be another stop on the Chenier family tour. In the last year, Mason has competed throughout the state, as well as a memorable stint in Atlanta.

"If I had to pick a moment that sticks out to me, I guess it would have to be Atlanta," Chenier said. "Having the opportunity to compete in the Senior Short-Course Nationals was great."

"It will be nice to swim in Florida though, because my dad will be there. He missed the short-course nationals with a broken leg."

Mark Chenier, a former swimming champion in his own right, is not only his son's biggest supporter, but also a sanctioned event official.

"That's how he gives back to the sport now," said Mason. "My family has been great throughout my career. They travel to events, and put in a ton of time working at events and things."

With another year left on the prep scene, Chenier is determined to improve his time in hundredths of seconds in each event he swims. He will undoubtedly continue to raise the standard of swimming at Eastern Wayne -- and in North Carolina.

Don't close the record books ... yet.