By Dave Dyer
---- — It’s not easy being a boy swimmer at a school like Central Catholic.
With the Raiders among the best teams in New England in basketball and also boasting elite programs in hockey and wrestling, swimmers usually don’t get much notice, much less respect.
But senior David Kitchen of North Andover is making a name for himself despite the second nature of his sport. He’s among the best breaststrokers in the Merrimack Valley Conference and the best-ever at Central.
“He’s definitely the best athlete we’ve had since I’ve been here (‘99),” said Central coach Scott Young. “Swimming-wise, he’s certainly the best we’ve had since we split with Andover. He’s close to (two-time Eagle-Tribune MVP) Kevin Riley’s record in the 100 breaststroke.
“He’s a combo of a natural swimmer and a hard worker. He’s good at it and works at it, which is why he’s so good.”
We caught up to the Eagle-Tribune All-Star to go Around the Horn and find out what it’s like to be a swimmer at Central and why he got a relatively late start in the sport.
You didn’t start swimming until the seventh grade — why the late start in a sport in which most people start much younger?
“I used to be a hockey player but I got tired of it and wanted to try something new. Swimming seemed like a good idea.”
Are there any other swimmers in the family?
“My younger sister Laura swims at Central. She started (swimming) about the same time I did.”
What’s it like swimming at a school where basketball, hockey and other bigger sports are so successful and grab all the attention?
“I like flying under the radar. We’re kind of like the underdogs. Whenever they announce something we do, people are shocked.”
What do you like most about swimming?
“It’s a great way to stay in shape, you meet some really great people and I like that when you put in the effort, you can get something out of it.”
What’s the toughest training you do?
“When the coach gives us New Year’s Eve practice and we swim for three hours.”
What are your goals for the year?
“To beat Andover and then beat them again at the MVC meet.”
What’s more enjoyable — swimming for your club team (ANA Hurricanes) or for your high school?
“The high school team is better. We’re with each other every day and there’s more of a team atmosphere.”
What’s the most misunderstood thing about swimming?
“People think we all wear Speedos.”
What do you like to do when you’re not swimming?
“I’ve become really interested in art and I’m spending a lot of time getting into architecture.”
Any other sports?
“I play tennis — first doubles last year and probably third singles this year. I’m also a captain in tennis.”
What’s something that people don’t know about you?
“That I’m a good athlete and a good artist. A lot of people see my work around the school and I think they’re surprised.”
Any other siblings besides Laura and are they into sports?
“I have an older sister, Bridget, who is a lacrosse goalie at Trinity College, and they just won the Division 3 title, and a younger brother, Patrick. He does track but he’s more into acting.”
What are your college plans?
“I hope to go to a fairly good school for swimming but the main thing is that I want to go to the best school I can for architecture.”
“If you were principal, what changes would you make?
“I’d make the dress code more relaxed and I’d make it M day (school starts an hour later because of teacher meetings) every day.”
TV Show: Gold Rush
Movie: Lord of the Rings
Book: Lord of the Rings
Class at school: Math
Teacher: Ms. (Nicole) Giraffo, my AP art teacher
Boston pro team: Bruins ... definitely not the Patriots — we’re Buffalo Bills fans because of my father (from Rochester, N.Y.)
Vacation spot: British Virgin Islands