A different stroke among swimming folk

Colleges: Aaron Krause, who has worked extra hard because of dyslexia and a late start to the sport, is Towson's most decorated swimmer.

Colleges

February 17, 2004|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

Nothing has ever come easily for Aaron Krause.

Because he never applied himself seriously to swimming when he was younger, he became a classic example of the late bloomer.

When the Towson senior enters the Colonial Athletic Association meet tomorrow, his career in the pool will continue to be on the upswing, not winding down, at the end of his college experience.

And because Krause, 22, has dyslexia, a disorder that impairs one's ability to read, academic achievement has been a challenge.

"He works twice as hard in the classroom as he does in the pool," said Krause's father, Edward.

Which is to say extremely hard. Krause could leave the university with his name beside 13 school records -- he currently holds 11 -- and as the most accomplished swimmer in Towson history. He has qualified for July's U.S. Olympic trials in Long Beach, Calif., in the 100-meter backstroke. He is also the only Tiger ever to compete in the NCAA Division I meet.

"He is definitely the most talented individual I've ever had," said Tigers coach Pat Mead, who is in his sixth season. "From a coaching perspective, you just say `Thank God' something like this happens."

A Linthicum native, Krause was basically a walk-on to the program.

"I didn't even know if he'd make our squad," Mead said. "We did time trials at the end of September [Krause's freshman year] and the first time I saw him swim the 100 backstroke I turned to my assistant [Darryl Waldon] and said, `This guy is legit.' It has only escalated from then."

Krause had dabbled in swimming his entire life. The key word is dabbled.

He competed for the Retrievers' age-group club team at UMBC as a youth and at the Gow School, a boarding school near Buffalo, N.Y., for dyslexic boys where he spent his high school years. But his training time was never as extensive as that of many of his peers.

"I think I was good for the time I was putting into it but I skied more than I swam," he said. "I was into racing, the giant slalom. Sports were mandatory [at Gow] and I also played soccer and tennis. The reason I started taking swimming seriously late was that my goal was to play a Division I sport. I thought swimming was my best shot in college."

And when Krause sets an objective, he is dead set on it.

"He is very disciplined, goal-oriented, in everything," Mead said. "He knows what he wants and doesn't allow anyone or anything to interfere with that."

That trait is equally -- probably even more so -- carried into his schoolwork. Krause, a mass communications major, earned a 3.4 grade point average last semester and was presented the Doc Minnegan Award, which goes to Towson's top student-athlete, a year ago.

Krause often goes home to Linthicum on Saturdays to study, not to mention do his laundry and enjoy some of mother Kathy's cooking.

The family is understandably proud of Aaron, the only member to achieve noteworthy athletic success in college and perform well academically. His father is a real estate appraiser, his mother a government employee.

"My parents just learned how to swim at the YMCA," Aaron said. "They were always just hauling us [him and older brother Eddie] around and didn't have time for it."

With versatility as his calling card in the water, Krause's resume includes CAA Swimmer of the Year (2003), CAA and Eastern College Athletic Conference performer of the meet, championship records in two conferences (America East and CAA) and a raft of backstroke, freestyle and medley titles in both leagues.

If there is one chink in his aquatic armor, it is mastery of the breaststroke. In typical Krause fashion, he is working diligently to remove that.

"In the medley, I'll be so far ahead, then you can hear the crowd gasp, wondering if I'm going to get caught [in the breaststroke leg]," he said.

Krause said he hopes to qualify again for the NCAA meet after finishing a disappointing 23rd in the backstroke last year. Then, he will continue to train at Towson with an eye toward national and international competition.

"From a swimming perspective, he is nowhere near done," Mead said. "There have been improvements in only his fourth year. He's still developing physically and he's already committed to go another year to try to make an international team. He'll go for 2008 [the Olympics]."

Krause trains 25 to 26 hours weekly in the pool and the weight room, a dedicated young man on a mission.

"I only started competitively four years ago," he said. "There are so many good people out there, but if I keep improving and swim well next year, maybe 2008 is the year. Who knows? If I had started younger, I might be burned out by now."

Aaron Krause's

Towson records

Individual

Event ............................. Time ............. Year

400 ind. medley ........ 3:59.76 ............. 2004

200 ind. medley ........ 1:51.88 ............. 2003

200 freestyle ............ 1:37.77 .............. 2003

100 freeystle ............... 45.97 .............. 2002

100 backstroke ........... 48.13 .............. 2003

200 backstroke ........ 1:45.44 ............. 2003

Relays

Event ............................ Time ................ Year

200 freestyle-a .......... 1:23.50 .............. 2002

400 freestyle-a .......... 3:04.31 .............. 2002

800 freestyle-b .......... 6:48.96 .............. 2003

200 medley-a ............ 1:31.76 .............. 2003

400 medley-a .............3:21.71 .............. 2003

a-swam first leg. b-swam anchor leg.

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