Michael Draves already has accomplished a lot in his high school swimming career.
Now, with less than two weeks left before it’s over, the Middleton senior isn’t finished — and he isn’t satisfied.
Draves goes into Saturday’s WIAA Division 1 sectional at Beloit Memorial fresh off victories in the 200- and 500-yard freestyle events in the Big Eight Conference meet.
This season, Middleton defeated Madison Memorial in a dual meet for the first time. Draves and the Cardinals, ranked fifth on the state coaches’ honor roll, are ready to see the third-ranked Spartans, top-ranked Madison West and other top-notch competition in the coming weeks.
“My times have been faster than where I’ve been (at the same time) last year. I’m excited to get a crack at sectionals and state coming up,” said Draves, a team captain.
Draves, who has committed to swim for Indiana University, finished runner-up in the 500 freestyle at state each of the past two seasons.
Among the familiar foes he expects to face at the UW Natatorium on Feb. 17 is the defending state champ, Waukesha South/Catholic Memorial’s John Acevedo.
“I’m going to be racing the guy who beat me (in the 500 freestyle) last year,” Draves said. “I’m going to try and beat him and get a crack at that state title.”
Last season, Draves also finished fourth at state in the 200 freestyle.
There still are milestones to strive for as he prepares to swim his final races as a prep athlete.
“I want my 200 (freestyle) under (1 minute, 40 seconds) and my 500 to get the team record and hopefully go 4:32, at least,” said Draves, who ranks fourth in Division 1 this season in the 200 free and sixth in the 500 free.
Reaching those times is going to require a special performance at the most opportune time — a feat Draves already has displayed a knack for delivering.
“We’ve had some phenomenal swims out of him in those clutch moments in the last year or two. He’s just a great asset to the team all-around,” said second-year Middleton coach Danny Lynam, who swam at Verona and UW-Stevens Point.
Draves also swims on Middleton’s 200 and 400 freestyle relay teams, both of which rank sixth statewide and finished in the top 10 at state last year. One relay performance, however, stands out.
“The 400 freestyle relay is where he really shines,” Lynam said. “Last year he caught up with Lain Weaver (of Madison West), which is no easy task. He went in a good second or two behind and ended up running him down, tying for the 400 freestyle relay.”
Lynam said Draves has displayed the right blend of intangibles for success.
“He enjoys working hard. He likes the challenging sets and just trains 110 percent all the time. He’s pretty steady as far as energy and personality,” Lynam said.
Draves and Lynam specialized in the same two events during their careers — the 200 and 500 freestyles. Despite this commonality, Draves takes his own approach to race pacing.
“I do tend to take it out faster in a way. I feel like it’s easier if I just get going. Kind of start fast and stay fast,” Draves said.
“He goes out after it with a little more intensity than I traditionally had. It works for him,” said Lynam, who served as an assistant at Madison West for two years and one season at Middleton before taking over at Middleton.
Draves’ biggest goal for the next two weekends?
“I just want to go out and give it everything I’ve got,” he said.