By ANDY HEINTZ
Courier Sports Writer
---- — OTTUMWA — Michael Wagner has bedecked many a swimming pool with his beautiful strokes over the years.
"He has the capacity to be one of our really top swimmers," Ottumwa boys' swimming coach Heidi Owens said.
And, aside from his swimming skills, Wagner also happens to be a laid-back, good-natured person to be around — a valuable asset for any team beset by the inevitable vagaries that pop up during the season.
"Michael is just a nice kid who comes to practice every time and works hard," Owens said.
Wagner, among other things, swims in the grueling 500 freestyle, a race that tests the will of even the most mentally tough, battle-tested competitor. Wagner, however, employs his own strategy when he swims the race.
"Before you swim, you don't get stressed out, you don't think about it," he said.
And, wonderful to relate, Wagner has done a terrific job shaving seconds off his 500 freestyle time this season.
"I'd like to get under six minutes if I can," he said.
Besides the stamina-testing 500, Wagner also swims in the 200 freestyle, the 400 freestyle relay and the 200 freestyle medley relay (Wagner said he and his fellow teammates want to qualify for state in the 200 freestyle medley relay).
The genesis of Wagner's swim career started at an young age, second grade to be exact, where he swam for the Ottumwa Barracudas. The senior swimmer said his favorite thing about being part of this year's Bulldog squad is his friends.
When the Wagner isn't in the pool, he likes to watch his favorite television show, the irreverent sitcom "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia." Wagner also enjoys spending time with friends and eating his favorite food, spaghetti, in his spare time. In the world of academics, Wagner said he enjoys science more than any other subject.
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