Fraser on target to make big waves Swimming: Loyola star already has broken one school record, and his coach thinks that is only the beginning.

February 07, 1997|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

At a sinewy 6-foot-2, 160 pounds, Loyola's Omar Fraser has the lean look of a football wide receiver or a basketball point guard.

In fact, JV coach Reginald Boyce at times has asked that Fraser, a junior, seriously consider playing basketball for him.

But if you ask his swimming coach, Keith Schertle, Fraser's body -- which includes a V-shaped upper torso -- belongs in the water.

"You're talking about a kid who is extremely muscular, with not 1 percent of what I would call body fat," said Schertle of perhaps the area's best swimmer.

"Omar's got the athletic build of maybe a football or basketball player, but with very thin legs, and very, very long arms -- like those on a guy 6-4, or 6-5. They're certainly longer than mine," said Schertle, who stands 6-1. "He gets great pull in the water -- all the way through on his strokes -- and he really gets the best out of his ability."

Last week, in a victory over Calvert Hall, Fraser did just that.

Fraser broke the Loyola pool record in the 100-yard backstroke, covering the distance in 52.13 seconds. He shattered the old pool record (52.75) that was established in 1982 by Pat Kennedy, a 1984 Olympian.

"I had no idea that I had broken any records until I got out of the pool and my coach congratulated me. It's taken a little while to sink in," said Fraser, a 16-year-old Joppatowne native.

A 3.3 student at Loyola, Fraser has heard from several colleges concerning his future, "which definitely includes swimming," he said.

"I want to swim in college, and I guess the Olympics is a fairly realistic goal."

For now, however, he will focus on tomorrow's Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association championships at Calvert Hall. Next weekend, he travels with the Dons to Villanova to compete against East Coast schools in the National Catholic Championships.

Because of his father's government job, Fraser was born and spent the first five years of his life in Nuremburg, Germany. There, his aquatic talents were discovered almost by accident.

"My parents [Guy and Margaret] wanted me to learn how to swim, and my swimming instructor saw potential, probably because I caught on really easily to the strokes," said Fraser. "I think I've always had a feel for the water. It's kind of hard to explain, but the transition was smooth."

When he was 8, Fraser began swimming competitively for the Edgewood Aquanauts, coached by Fred Lee.

"My old swim coach, Fred Lee, used to tell me to feel the flow of the water," Fraser said. "I guess I kind of already knew that, because it just kind of came naturally."

Fraser, who enjoys mountain biking and has played tennis recreationally, "has a reputation around the school for being a very quiet, studious individual," said Joe Brune, the Dons' college counselor and football coach.

He has never lifted weights, meaning his chiseled features result from years of training in the sport he loves best.

"I swim pretty much seven days a week at Meadowbrook Aquatic Club," said Fraser, a member of the North Baltimore Aquatic Club that has produced Olympic gold medalists Anita Nall and Beth Botsford.

"Our practices last about 2 1/2 hours. The first 20-to-25 minutes are all dry-land workouts, like the medicine balls, sit-ups, stretching," said Fraser. "Then we swim about 8,000 yards."

In his previous personal best in the 100, Fraser had equaled Kennedy's record, and his fastest times in the 50-meter freestyle and the 100-meter free are 21.83 and 48.79, respectively.

Fraser thinks he has a shot at both the 50 free school record (21.01) and pool record (21.5), but Schertle said he can go much farther.

"Omar's just started to realize how good he can be," said Schertle. "Omar's only going to be limited by Omar. We knew he was a good swimmer, but now he's beginning to realize that he can, in fact, be a great swimmer."

Pub Date: 2/07/97

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