By Caleb Slinkard
The Commerce Journal
Most high school athletes are passionate about the sports they play, but few demonstrate the dedication of swimmers like Commerce High School senior Zoe Peak.
Three hours a day, six days a week, Peak and either her father or mother drive from Commerce to the Rockwall Aquatic Center to practice and prepare for meets with the center’s club team, RACE.
“It’s definitely a commitment: a time commitment and a financial commitment,” Zoe’s father, Ben, said.
That regimen has paid off. On April 16, she signed a letter of intent with Henderson State University. Zoe only began competing in swimming three and a half years ago, but she had an affinity for the sport before then.
“I’ve always liked to swim,” she said. “You are on your own: just you and the water.”
Unlike other sports, swimming requires work throughout the year.
“If you miss practice four days in a row, you’re falling behind,” Zoe’s father, Ben, sad.
After entering the sport with Commerce TigerSharks, who were coached by Tyler Tyndale at the time, the Peaks decided it was time for Zoe to take it to the next level. With RACE, Zoe was first under the instruction of Wagner E da Silva, and now trains underneath former Olympian Neil Walker.
“Swimming for a club team requires a lot more hours,” she said. “The coaches are great.”
The Rockwall Aquatic Center hosts state and national meets, and is regarded as a state-of-the-art facility.
Ben said that the recruiting process was more difficult that say football or baseball, due to the lower media exposure for swimming in the state of Texas and the fact that Zoe was not the member of a high school team. But Zoe’s swimming times were strong enough to attract the attention of a variety of coaches, especially her backstroke, and she was invited to come out on an official visit to Henderson State. According to Ben, Zoe should enter the university in the top 10 percent of the team.
“I’ve never seen people swim like that,” Zoe said after watching the collegiate team. “They were very powerful.”
Ben said that he and Zoe were impressed with Henderson State head coach Coak Matthews, who is one of the university’s most decorated coaches and has been in his position for 29 years.
Without a high school swimming program, Zoe is very likely the first Commerce High School graduate to sign with a university’s swimming team.
“It’s a beautiful campus,” Zoe said, who will begin competing with the team when she starts college in the fall. “My goal is to compete in the national tournament.”
For now, however, Zoe will continue to train in Rockwall, three hours a day, six days a week.