Jack Boyd approached his high school swimming coach at the beginning of the season and made him an offer he could refuse.
The record-setting junior from Canisius volunteered to swim all three relays at the postseason Federation meet at the expense of his own individual events. Since relays yield more points in team scoring, Boyd was looking to put his team in better position for a state title.
It sounds like a good idea except Boyd is the Federation’s defending champion in both the 200 meters and 500 meters. Canisius coach Brian Spurlock didn’t take long to decide.
“I immediately said ‘no,’ but thought it was a really mature thing for a kid his age to do that for the team. That’s one of the more amazing things I’ve heard from him. But that’s the kind of kid he is. He’s the defending champion – I can’t take him out of that.”
Boyd has also done his share of amazing things in the water. Last month the Crusaders traveled to Cleveland to compete in the 40-team Viking Invitational. Not only did Boyd win the 500 and 200, he hit All-America times in both and was named Swimmer of the Meet.
Despite not being rested or shaved, he went 4:26.72 in the 500 to break his own Western New York record by 4 seconds.
“I had three different coaches come up and say they’re calling their [college] coaches and telling them to get this kid on their radar,” said Spurlock.
Boyd is one of WNY’s best athletes in any sport. He’s a five-time All-American hitting the required time once as a freshman in the 500 and twice as a sophomore and junior. He’s two seconds off the state record of 4:24.06 in the 500, held by Ryan Freeley since 2009. He’s one second off the 200 state record of 1:37.12 held by Tom Luchsinger, also from 2009. Boyd’s career best in the 200 is 1:38.27, set last year at states.
“He is very fast, it’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen,” said teammate Mark Hilton, a senior, who swims the breaststroke, individual medley and butterfly. “He’s got a lot of talent, and he works really hard. He put so much effort into it, and he has such a great work ethic.”
That work ethic will likely earn Boyd his share of attention from college coaches. He’s gotten some early interest from Southeastern Conference powers Auburn and Alabama.
“I’m open to anything,” said Boyd, who carries a 90 average. “I think a lot of times colleges are looking for really a hard worker, and athletes who have the potential to grow as a swimmer. So I have to show them through my actions, and in meets, that I am those things.”
Boyd could easily sacrifice swimming for his high school and focus on the higher profile USA Swimming events. Instead, he described his 6:15 a.m. practices for school and his afternoon practice with his club team as, “a good fit.”
“I swim high school because it’s more swimming,” Boyd said. “I really like coach Spurlock and how it’s all fun there, and it’s a program I love being a part of.”
Boyd has plenty of teammates who feel the same. Senior Luke Otto not only leads Western New York in the 200 IM, he’s ranked No. 4 in the state in the breast and No. 5 in the IM. Also having strong senior seasons are Will McCauley, Joe Martin, Peter McCarthy and Christian Westermeier. The future is in good hands with sophomores James Pokornowski, Andrew Wojtowicz and freshman Samuel Sawyer.
With only four dual meets within the Monsignor Martin Association, and Section VI schools refusing to schedule them, Canisius makes its share of road trips. The Crusaders (19-4) will head back to Cleveland this weekend for the Blazer Invitational. They won the 15-team Schenectady Invitational and competed in Ithaca. They swim Cathedral Prep (Pa.), but this year’s meet is at City Honors.
Orchard Park has a strong swimming tradition, but the only time it might cross paths with Canisius is in the Federation meet.
“Part of it is we have so many meets, we can’t take time away, but clearly they are the best team in Western New York,” said Quakers coach Art Aungst. “We have two meets a week, it’s hard to train around. Our goal is really the postseason. They really don’t have any competition this year, they are that good. Jack is hands down one of the best distance guys we’ve [WNY] has ever had.”