“In baseball, I just wasn’t really the greatest, and I was just looking for something,” the Saks High senior said.
Turns out, he’s a state-level swimmer.
In his first season of competitive swimming, Monday qualified for this week’s state meet, which starts with Friday’s preliminaries in Auburn.
His qualifying times -- 22.91 seconds in the 50-yards freestyle and 57.13 in the 100 butterfly -- are well ahead of cutoffs. He beat the 50 free qualifying time by nearly two seconds and the 100 butterfly cutoff by five.
He posted qualifying times in four events but can compete in two.
“I feel pretty confident I’ll go pretty far in my 50 free,” he said. “But in the 100 butterfly, there were some really fast times last year. I’ve got my work cut out for me in that one.”
Monday has done plenty of work in a short time.
He played baseball from youth league into high school but said he “just kind of got fed up” with it. The swimming bug buzzed in his ear a year before he listened.
Most area high schools don’t have swimming teams, so interested swimmers participate for the Calhoun County YMCA’s Blue Dolphins team. They can post state-qualifying times during the high school season.
YMCA swim coach Brandy Sanders makes regular presentations at area high schools, and Monday attended one. It was enough to get him to try out a year ago, but he opted to stick with baseball.
“I don’t think he realized how good he was,” Sanders said. “We tried to tell him, because it was so new to him.”
This year, he tried out again and made an immediate impression. Sanders has newcomers swim a 50 free just to assess their abilities, and he swam in under 30 seconds.
“Most of them don’t even swim under a minute,” Sanders said.
Monday’s teammates noticed.
“One of the guys that I swam with was like, ‘Yeah, you’re done with baseball,’” he said.
Sanders immediately went to work on Monday’s raw strokes and flexibility, and he has had a big first season. He has several high-point showings in his age group in local events and was high-point man in last week’s Calhoun County Championships, scoring 80 of Saks’ 143.
He’s a regular top 10 finisher in bigger meets.
“When you have over a hundred kids in the event, that’s pretty big,” Sanders said. “Most of those boys have been swimming since they were 6 and 7 years old.”
Monday posted three state-qualifying times at a September meet at the Greystone YMCA in Birmingham. He posted another qualifying time at a later meet.
He chose the 50 free and 100 butterfly as his state events, and Sanders isn’t surprised at Monday’s quick success.
“He has a lot of strength, and he just kind of had a natural form,” she said. “I mean, he’s very athletic to begin with. He wasn’t very flexible, which we had to fix up, because in swimming that’s important, but he’s gotten a lot better at that.
“He has the mindset, too. He’s willing to work. He voluntarily does two-a-day workouts.”
Monday’s swimming feats are gaining recognition at Saks, which is already having a big sports year with the football team’s run to the state semifinals. He was mentioned in Principal Jody Whaley’s school announcements, and some of Monday’s teachers attended the county championships.
“It was kind of a slow start, at first, because it was like, ‘Oh, that’s just swimming,’” said Monday, who was also recognized at the Nov. 14 Calhoun County Board of Education meeting, “but a lot of them are coming out.”
Monday now hopes to swim collegiately. For the time being, though, he’s found that thing young people seek.
“I was just kind of fed up with baseball, and I was looking for something else,” he said. “I was looking for a place that I fit in and then just showed up here and just kind of fit in.”
Sports columnist Joe Medley: 256-235-3576, firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @jmedley_star.
Calhoun County Championships
Team -- Alexandria 253, Saks 143, Oxford 128, Pleasant Valley 98, Weaver 68, Sacred Heart 65.
High Point Runners-up --- Trace Hilbun (Oxford) 73, Dacey Dunaway (Alexandria) 71.
High Point Winners --- Juliane Hill (Alexandria) 77, Mikey Monday (Saks) 80.