Malone rewarded for his perseverance
New Trier's Reed Malone swims the 200 yard freestyle during the sectional meet at Glenbrook South February 16, 2013. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 22, 2013 10:19AM
GLENVIEW — There were many times growing up when New Trier senior Reed Malone simply wanted to play basketball.
Basketball was a sport he was good at. Swimming didn’t come as easy to him.
“Honestly, if I am not good at something, I don’t want to do it,” said Malone, who was a basketball contemporary of New Trier senior guard Reid Berman.
At the urging of New Trier Swim Club coaches Rick Peterson and Bob Kizer, Malone stuck with swimming and sacrificed a potential basketball career in high school.
It’s a decision that has paid off for Malone.
A four-year varsity swimmer and four-time state champion, Malone will punctuate his prep career this weekend at the state meet at his home pool.
“Rick showed me that not everything comes easily,” said Malone, who will swim the 200-yard freestyle, 500 free and the two free relays at state. “Swimming is a sport where you have to do something over and over again to make it perfect.
“I’m really proud of what I have accomplished, and I give a lot of credit to my coaches and my parents for pushing me along.
“This is my last chance to leave my mark and my legacy.”
New Trier coach Mark Onstott said the 6-foot-3 Malone came to him with all the tools necessary to be successful in the water.
An injury cut Malone’s freshman season short, but he competed at the state meet as a sophomore, helping the Trevians finish first in the 400 free relay and win the team title.
Last season, Malone captured a state championship in the 200 individual medley and swam on two relay teams — the 200 free and 400 free — that won state titles. He also finished second in the 500 free as the Trevians defended their team title.
“Reed has great technique in all four strokes, which gives him a wide range and us a lot of flexibility,” Onstott said. “He has a great engine and great strength. He really has it all.
“Plus, he’s a hard-worker who has a positive attitude.”
Malone showed he’s one of the best in this country for his age by qualifying for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials in Omaha, Neb., as a 17-year-old. Although USC coach Dave Salo had seen Malone swim prior to Omaha, he once again was impressed with the soon-to-be senior.
“Reed has good command off the walls and a really strong and consistent kick,” said Salo, who beat out Georgia, Texas and Virginia for Malone’s signed commitment. “We won’t have to teach him when he gets here. Instead, we will be training. We hope to accentuate the skills he already has.”
Onstott said Malone made the correct choice in picking the Trojans, one of the best programs in the country under Salo.
“I really think he will bloom there,” Onstott said. “The sky is the limit for Reed, especially because of the type of person he is and type of athlete he is.”
While Malone wasn’t sold on swimming early on, he said he’s thankful to have listened to the encouraging words of Peterson and Kizer.
“Yes, there were times when I wished I picked basketball instead,” said Malone, who admitted to thinking ahead to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. “But Bob told me if I stayed with swimming, I could do some special things.
“I don’t think it’s all sunk in yet. Maybe it will when I am standing on one of the blocks this weekend.”