Profile: Senior Sean Haechler, Swimmer


By Elizabeth Archer

It wasn’t until his junior year that things started to heat up for senior Sean Haechler, one of Tam’s fastest swimmers. Breaking four records on Tam’s current swim team—the 200 yard medley relay, the 400 free relay, the 200 individual medley, and the 100 fly—Haechler is expected to help lead Tam’s team for this upcoming swimming season. While those records were set last year, Haechler has already beat them outside of Tam. “We have a fairly young team with a lot of talented young swimmers,” Haechler said. “I think that as the only upperclassman that swims at a club level, I will be taking on a huge leadership role.” Haechler often can’t make practices due to his commitment to the Marin Pirates, a club swim team, but his role as a team captain remains just as vital. “I am still excited to get in the pool with the team. Hopefully there will still be that ‘team feeling’ even though I’m not always there. My goal for this season in NCS is to continue to get my personal best times and to keep breaking records for Tam,” he said.

Haechler takes a break in the middle of his tough practices. Haecher swims for both Marin Pirates and Tam High
Haechler takes a break in the middle of his tough practices. Haecher swims for both Marin Pirates and Tam High

“From Monday to Friday we have practice from 4 to 6:15 at IVC [Indian Valley Campus] in Novato,” Haechler said, rattling off the schedule for his club swim team, the Marin Pirates. “Saturday morning I have practice from 7:00 to 10:00 am. And then on Tuesday and Thursday mornings I have to wake up at 4:30 to lift with my club team at Kentfield. Now that has been some getting used to.”

While swimming has been his center focus these past couple years, Haechler hasn’t always been a competitive swimmer. “My freshman and sophomore year I was on the junior national team for freestyle skiing,” Haechler said. “I kept thinking, what’s next? I really saw myself as a competitive skier and saw myself going far into that.” Freshman year, Haechler decided to play water polo for Tam during his skiing off-season. With advice from Bob Kustel, one of Tam’s swim coaches, Haechler was encouraged to try out swimming. “Bob told me, ‘I don’t even care if you don’t know how to swim, we’ll have you.’ So that turned into swimming during offseason of ski season because you need to be fit,” Haechler said.

At the end of his swimming season sophomore year, Haechler started dropping time and swimming faster on his event, the 100 fly. He was beating other kids in MCAL who had been swimming their whole life. “It made me think that maybe this could be more than just a way to train in the offseason of skiing,” Haechler said. Before joining his current club team, Haechler swam for the Strawberry Seals. “The head coach for the Seals, who was also a family friend, said that if I put enough time and effort into swimming he could see me swimming at a collegiate level,” Haechler said. It was then that he had to make a difficult decision: swimming or skiing. “Swimming on [the Marin Pirates] means weekend practices, which means no skiing,” he said. “I dropped skiing which was a hard decision because I really thought of myself as a skier. I started swimming for the Marin Pirates junior year and that’s when I really started training. I expected it to be hard, but I had never expected it to be that time consuming.”
Along with swimming every day came an adjustment of priorities, but working hard was a set of skills that came naturally to Haechler. “Before a big meet, I separate myself from the commotion of everything else. I plug in headphones and I run through the whole race from walking up to the blocks to finishing and touching the wall and looking up at the scoreboard,” he said. “If I can visualize that I can swim a perfect race in my head, I can say I’ve already swum the race I only have to do it one more time.”
With four months of swimming on the club team and swimming throughout the summer, an opportunity to excel beyond high school arose in the spring of his junior year.

Haechler is one of Tam High’s team captains.

Haechler was recruited to D1 college Villanova University for the 100 yard fly and the 200 fly, two events Haechler excels at on both his Tam and Marin Pirate teams. In addition, he has also committed to Villanova’s business school.

Recently, Haechler qualified to be an All-American for the 100 yard fly. “In Seattle two weeks ago I got my All-American time. I went 50.8, and to qualify is a 51.2. It had been one of my main goals for a long time.”
While swimming in college is what Haechler plans on accomplishing, the future is limitless when it comes to staying in the pool. “I definitely see myself swimming for the rest of my life. My club swim coach, Warren Lagger, always says, ‘swimming is not an end into itself but a means to a greater end.’ What he means is that you don’t swim to get fast–it’s to build those life skills you can take with you through whatever walks of life.”
From skiing to swimming, Haechler has taken with him the key essentials to being both a teammate and a leader. “Swimming is a weird sport because there is so much delayed gratification. You swim miles a day for months for just one race that lasts 50 seconds. And I obviously can’t hang out with my friends as much as I used too, but I consider some of my teammates my best friends. Swimming has overall changed who I am.”