Barbe’s Zach Stump has his eyes set on college. (Rick Hickman / Special to the American Press)
Barbe High’s Zach Stump is the epitome of work ethic — practicing in the pool before school and cracking the books after school for a 4.0 grade-point average. (Rick Hickman / Special to the American Press)
Last Modified: Friday, November 22, 2013 1:30 PM
Zach Stump’s days often start before 5 a.m. and don’t slow down until 6:30 or 7:30 p.m.
The Barbe High and Spartan club swimmer has been chasing high grade-point averages in school and low times in the pool since he began swimming in sixth grade. Now a junior, Stump was named a USA Swimming Scholastic All-American in October thanks to his 4.0 GPA and national qualifying times in the 100 and 200 breastroke.
Stump sounds nonchalant when discussing any difficulties of long, busy days spent balancing studies with athletic pursuits.
“I think it’s the way I was raised,” he said. “My parents at first really pushed me to make good grades and now it’s expected of me. So I think they’ve played a large role in my success. … Swimming and schoolwork are mutually benefiting. I get the work ethic from swimming and I apply it to school and vice versa.”
Barbe swim coach Chris Deroche called Stump “extremely motivated” and said his hard work shows in practice. Stump works out with the Spartans most days, but on Wednesdays during the indoor season, Barbe and the Spartans work out in the same pool.
“I frequently point Zach out to the rest of the team when they’re swimming next to us, because you can see his work ethic compared to the rest of the guys in the group,” Deroche said. “It’s far and above. He hasn’t gotten where he is by chance. … A lot of them think they’re working out hard until they see Zach Stump working out.”
Stump’s work will be put to the test at this weekend’s state swim meet, where he hopes to place in the top three in the 200-yard individual medley and win the 100 breastroke. Stump also wants to break the state record in the 100 breastroke — he recites from memory that he’s 1.03 seconds away from the mark of 56.28 seconds, set in 2002. He already owns the 100 breastroke record for Barbe, the Calcasieu Championship meet and the Southwest Louisiana Swim League.
After the state meet, Stump said he will shift his focus to the Junior National Championship in mid-December in Greensboro, N.C. Stump was the lone local swimmer to qualify for the meet.
Not surprisingly, Stump has been hearing from plenty of colleges. He said his top three schools are Northwestern, North Carolina and Notre Dame.
“(Going to a good academic school) is of very big importance to me. Swimming doesn’t really last too long after college, but academics last your whole life,” he said.
Stump also mentioned a strong record in school is helpful when planning a college career in swimming.
“Even if you don’t get a full-ride scholarship, which is very rare in swimming, you can get partial academic scholarships,” he said.