Following in his brothers’ footsteps, Truman teDuits dove into swimming when he was 4 years old.
The fourth of five children, he regularly competed in Madison’s All-City events growing up. And he watched as his brother Drew became an NCAA champion and All-American at the University of Wisconsin and a U.S. Olympic trials qualifier, and as his brother Payton enjoyed success competing at UW-Milwaukee.
“My mom (Laura) encouraged me in swimming, but seeing my brothers, especially Drew, succeed, made me want to push myself and see if I can be better than him,” Truman teDuits said. “It’s going to be hard, but I think I can still do it.”
That has given teDuits (pronounced tee-dites), a junior for the top-ranked Madison Edgewood boys swimming and diving team, motivation to compete in college and qualify for the NCAA tournament — and even the Olympics.
“I know that is a very small chance,” he said about the U.S. Olympic team. “But with hard work anything is possible. The only thing stopping you from making your goals is yourself.”
The 17-year-old teDuits had talent but acknowledged he didn’t have that drive until after his freshman year when he became part of the senior group at the Badger Aquatics Club. He became better acquainted with top swimmers in the area, including now-former Monona Grove standout Ben McDade, a freshman at Indiana University.
“I got to know Ben McDade a lot better,” teDuits said this week prior to an Edgewood practice. “He is the hardest worker I’ve ever seen, and just seeing that in the pool really motivated me to push myself. It made me realize it’s really important. As long as you walk into the pool and work your hardest, results will come.
“That’s what I tried to implement sophomore year. I think I did it right. I had some massive time drops. I dropped some time I hadn’t dropped for a year or two.”
The results came for teDuits at last season’s WIAA Division 2 state meet, when Edgewood finished as runner-up to Monona Grove. He won the 100-yard freestyle championship in 46.96 seconds; finished second in the 200 individual medley; and was part of Edgewood’s second-place 200 medley relay with Alex Moen, Tommy Beyer and Sean O’Conner and fourth-place 400 freestyle relay with Nate Frucht, O’Conner and Moen.
TeDuits and the Crusaders, ranked No. 1 in Division 2 in the Wisconsin Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association poll, are looking for even more this season. At last Saturday’s Milwaukee Marquette Invitational, teDuits shattered his program record of :59.29 in the 100 breaststroke, winning in :58.57.
“It is hard to find somebody who no matter what (practice) set you give them will take that as a challenge and try to prove me wrong,” Crusaders fourth-year coach Dan Lindstrom said. “When you do find someone like that, it’s always fun to try to find the next thing you will challenge them with because not only does that help them physically, but it helps them mentally.
“You try to educate these young men to not only be quality swimmers but also quality individuals. And to do that you have to challenge them and try to press them where they don’t think they can go, and watch them succeed. Truman is the lead example of that.”
The Crusaders also are gaining inspiration this season from fourth-year assistant Marcus Pierce, who had surgery last month. His leg was amputated to remove synovial cell sarcoma, a rare form of cancer. While with Edgewood, Pierce has never missed a meet. He coached a dual meet against Oregon on Dec. 18, the day before his surgery, and returned in a wheelchair for a Dec. 29 meet at Sauk Prairie, Lindstrom said.
“He’s keeping these guys grounded and realizing you can’t take anything for granted,” Lindstrom said.
Said teDuits: “He pushes us. He keeps the fire in us. … We are a family and he’s an important part of the family.”
TeDuits, eyeing the breaststroke and individual medley as potentially his top events, is hoping the Crusaders’ season ends with a major splash in what could be a historic moment at the state meet Feb. 15-16 at the UW Natatorium, depending on when UW’s new swimming facility is completed during the 2019-2020 school year.
WIAA assistant director Tom Shafranski said Wednesday it’s too early to know whether this will be the last boys state meet at the Natatorium and if the 2020 boys meet will be at the new Nicholas Recreation Center at UW (the previous Southeast Recreational Facility or SERF). The WIAA hasn’t yet received any official word or a contract proposal from UW, Shafranski said in an email.
Edgewood is striving to end Monona Grove’s four-year stranglehold on the Division 2 state title. Lindstrom and teDuits said four or five teams — including Edgewood and second-ranked Monona Grove — should have a shot at the championship, though teDuits added: “I believe in us.”
“We are not only working for ourselves and the team, we also are working for Marcus and trying to do our best for him,” teDuits said. “It gives us one more thing to work for, which is really important. To get to state and win it, that would make him proud.”