Eau Claire (WQOW) --One of the best prep swimmers in the country resides right here in our backyard.
Last month, Eau Claire Memorial sophomore Paul DeLakis was named the Wisconsin swimmer of the year -- for the second time. News 18's Stephen Kelley shows us what drives DeLakis to be the best.
It's said that 65-percent of the human body is made up of water. Paul DeLakis has made it his mission that the other 35-percent sees as much time as it can in H20.
"When I'm in the water, I in a completely different mood," says DeLakis, "no matter what mood I was in before, I always come out happy."
He began swimming competitively at age five, and it didn't take him long to start leaving the competition in his wake.
"He's been swimming with our senior group, probably since age ten," says Eau Claire YMCA Marlins head coach Paula Caucutt, "so he's just determined he's going to be as good as whoever's out there."
And so far, he's been better... Paul won a national title in the 200-yard breast stroke at the YMCA National Championships last month, and is the owner of four Wisconsin individual state titles.
"You know, he doesn't like to lose," says Dylan Leonard, head coach of the Eau Claire Alliance high school team, "he really doesn't like to lose. When he gets to competition, there's that next level for him and he just goes after it."
So what keeps Paul in the pool? Sibling rivalry certainly doesn't hurt. While Paul is the current defending state champ in the 100-yard breast stroke, it's his brother Alex -- a four-time champ -- who owns the state's best time in the event.
"It first started when I was in 8th grade when I first watched him set the record," says Paul DeLakis, "it just pushed me even harder and motivated me even more in the pool."
"You know it's funny because he's the youngest," Caucutt says, "so he saw Alex succeed. And he wanted it, but he wanted it when he was younger and it just made him stronger."
But success does not come without sacrifice. Paul works in the pool five days a week -- at least three hours at a time. His off-days? What off-days? The weekends are spent in the weight room.
"I would really love to go to the Olympics, just like every other kid," DeLakis says, "so I just need to push myself even harder every day because I know some other kid has the same exact goal."
So how far can this sport take the sophomore? If you ask his coaches, it's all up to Paul.
"You don't want to know the ceiling," Leonard says, "and that's the best part with him. I think he may have some high goals, but I think we can make them even higher. Once he gets out, he's going to be let loose."
"With the drive that he has right now and his interest in swimming," Caucutt says, "I don't think there is a limit."
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