If Jason Louser has a home away from home, it might be the Nassau County Aquatic Center at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow. The 15-year-old Shoreham-Wading River High School sophomore trains there regularly as a member of the Long Island Aquatic Club, sharing the one-hour drive to and from with his parents, Karen and Kevin.
So, Louser was in his element Saturday when the New York State boys swimming championships were held at his “home” pool.
“It was a big comfort factor because it helped almost calm my nerves,” he said. “It’s pretty much where I practice every day.”
Louser, appearing in his third straight state meet, said his previous two experiences in the state meet weren’t good.
This time was different, though. This time Louser took away good memories from the state meet, not to mention his first state medals, a gold and a silver.
“It’s kind of crazy,” he said. “I never thought I would be a state champion as a sophomore. … I was super happy because it was my first time ever getting on the podium.”
“If anything, I think it was more than I thought it would have felt like,” he continued. “I felt very accomplished.”
Louser made good use of his 6-foot-5 frame to propel himself to first place in the 100-yard breaststroke in 56.54 seconds. He edged out Hauppauge sophomore Jack Casey, who was second in 56.96.
“I knew it was going to be a close race but I knew it was going to be the second half of my race that I was going to really have to pull through,” said Louser.
Louser was given a confidence boost for that race. Earlier in the day he had taken second place in the 200-yard individual medley, an event in which he was seeded sixth. His time of 1:51.17 was beaten only by the 1:50.28 that Half Hollow Hills East senior Alex Park, competing for the Half Hollow Hills team, registered.
Louser’s times in both races were personal records. His 100 breaststroke time made him an All-American automatic and his 200 individual medley time was good for All-American consideration.
Louser’s coach, Joyce Brown, was in Hawaii on Saturday, but she followed live updates of the meet on a computer along with exchanging text messages from her daughter, Taylor Kelly, and emails with Louser’s mother.
Brown said she was “just kind of in awe of him, but also a little sad that I wouldn’t be there to see it happen.”
It was the culmination of a great high school season for Louser. Last month he was voted the MVP of the Section XI Championships for his first-place finishes in the 500-yard freestyle and the 100-yard breaststroke at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood. His time of 4:31.63 in the freestyle set a county record, trimming the 4:32.79 that Chris Cremer of Sayville/Bayport-Blue Point set in 2007.
“I’m very proud of him,” Brown said. “I think there’s a little bit of everything going on with him. He’s working very hard and he has a very strong foundation in the sport. He trains hard, but mentally this is where he wants to be. It’s not his parents pushing him. … He wants this.”
Perhaps what is most impressive about Louser is what he has already accomplished at such a tender age. One cannot help but wonder what the future holds for him.
“You got two more years in the game here,” Brown said. “Where are you going now?”
Photo caption: Shoreham-Wading River sophomore Jason Louser found himself atop the podium following his victory in the 100-yard breaststroke in the state meet at the Nassau County Aquatic Center on Saturday. (Credit: courtesy photo)