Brainerd Warriors swimming and the Schmitz family have been interchangeable for about 20 years.
Six of Peter and Gudrun Schmitz's children have competed for the Warriors. Beth and Amy started the family tradition in the 1980s and were followed by Mark, Mike and Sarah.
This winter, the youngest Schmitz, 17-year-old Matt, is having a splendid senior season for the Warriors. He has 10 individual victories, has been a member of 11 first-place relays and leads the team in points (231). In addition, he was named Central Lakes Conference Performer of the Week ending Dec. 14 for winning two individual events and being on two first-place relays.
"It's a whole family thing," Matt Schmitz said. "It's good to have their support, telling me and giving me advice about what I should do."
Matt appreciates the fact he's the last Schmitz swimmer.
"My parents have gone through about 20 years of attending sports activities," he said. "I'm the last one. It's kind of like a closing call to Schmitz athletics.
Matt Schmitz profile
Sport -- Swimming
Events -- 100 backstroke, 100 butterfly, 200 medley relay, 200 free relay
Year -- Senior
Age -- 17
Height -- 5-foot-11
Weight -- 155 pounds
Other sports -- Cross country running, track and field
Grade-point average -- 3.4
Memorable sports achievement -- Breaking school record in medley relay
School activities -- Triathlon, choir, class cabinet
Favorite subject -- Biology
Favorite food -- Ice cream
Favorite movie -- "Goonies"
Hobbies -- Listening to music, exercising
Future plans -- Attend St. John's University in Collegeville, swim, major in pre-med
Athlete he admires -- His sister, Amy
Parents -- Peter and Gudrun Schmitz
"It's nice, too, to get more attention from my mom and dad and from my brothers and sisters. They're out of it but they still like the sport. They all still want to be part of it."
Warriors coach John Zemke likes large families that produce many swimmers.
"We don't compare Matt to his siblings," Zemke said. "They graduated before I came into the program. Matt gets a little more advice at home from family members who have gone through the program before.
"Other kids going through our sport for the first time don't have the background Matt's brothers and sisters do. They're always giving Matt positive advice, trying to help him out as much as they can."
Schmitz is the Warriors' top performer in the 100-yard backstroke and 100 butterfly and leads off the 200 medley and 200 free relays. Last week at St. Cloud Apollo, he won the butterfly and backstroke and was on the first-place medley relay.
"I got my fastest time, so far, in the butterfly," Schmitz said. "I was pretty happy about that. It's the fastest I've gone in the middle of the season. I'm ranked No. 2 in the section in the fly also."
Schmitz said the butterfly has always been one of his best strokes.
"When I was little I broke the YMCA state record," he said. "It's always been good for me. This year it really has taken off. I'm excited about the section, to see if I can make to state in it. So far, I think I have a pretty good shot."
In the backstroke, Schmitz has finished in the top four in the section every year.
"Last year I missed state by one place," he said. "This year I'm hoping to make it finally."
Last year he qualified for state for the first time, as a member of the 200 medley relay. Schmitz likes to lead off.
"I like to set the pace, get out there and try to take the lead right away," Schmitz said. "I like the chase you get."
In most cases, the opposition is chasing Schmitz, who is one of the first swimmers at practice.
"Matt has been such a great leader for us the last few years," Zemke said. "He's been part of teams that have been fairly successful. To be one of our top guys, year in and year out, and the positive attitude he brings to practice, he's one of those kids you like to be around all the time.
"He's always trying to build up the other guys. He gets along with everyone from our seventh grade divers to his own classmates."
Other notable efforts by Warriors:
Kathleen Lorenz, gymnastics, won the balance beam and all-around against Willmar.
Katie Perpich, gymnastics, won two events and the all-around vs. Sauk Centre.
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