Opelika youngster plunges into the record books

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By Wil Crews
sportscrews@opelikaobserver.com

A third grader in Opelika is rewriting the Southeast’s swimming record books.

Opelika Swim Team Member, Max Stern, broke two 8 and under boys Southeastern (Tennessee, Alabama and the Florida panhandle) swimming records at the BSL Iron City Invite in Birmingham on April 10 and 11.

“It’s rare,” said Opelika Swim Team coach Tyler McGill. “If Max continues down the path that he’s on, he will do some great, great things.”

Swimming the 50 free in 31.17 seconds and the 50 back in 38.1 seconds, Stern broke two records which stood from 2007 and 2014, respectively. He now owns three records for 8 and under boys as he broke the record for the 50 breaststroke at the Southeastern Championships last month.

McGill, an Olympic gold medalist swimmer, said Stern has an innate ability in the water.

“Max just has an unbelievable natural feel and natural gift in the water,” he said. “So, really its him. My job is just to make sure he is smiling and he learns a few more skills along the way.”

Going forward, McGill said he’s happy to praise Stern, but doesn’t want to impose expectations on him.

“Our goal with Max over the next so many years will be just to make him the best version of himself that he can be,” McGill said. “But we’re having fun with what he’s doing now and we’re having a good experience, so we are going to keep going. We certainly want to celebrate all of those accomplishments, but we also want to keep the focus the enjoyment of what he’s doing and the development of the skills – and we will see where that leads.”

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