---- — By Anthony Mitchell
For The Daily Item
MUNCY -- Zach Hoover found a home in the pool, and the skills he learned there led him to a future home.
The Milton H.S. graduate will soon travel to Fort Benning, Ga., for Army basic training.
"(Swimming) is getting me in great shape for (the military)," Hoover said. "That's one reason I'm swimming this summer."
Hoover was a fixture on the Milton/Warrior Run Rockets relay teams, showing an ability to rise to the occasion and help lift his teammates in the process.
"I tried every sport from baseball to football but I've never really been good at (them); swimming was the only sport I've played that I'm good at," Hoover said. "I enjoy it."
Hoover took to the pool quickly, becoming one of the leaders of his squad despite swimming competitively for only three years.
"I teach all my swimmers, the person they have to beat is in the mirror," Milton/Warrior Run Rockets coach Veronica Irvine said. "This year, Zach found his groove and was stronger and faster in the water."
The 18-year-old traded sweltering two-a-days in football for a swim cap and goggles three years ago and the decision has paid off.
As part of a unit Hoover will eventually join in the military, he will need to work with others towards a common goal. Essentially it's like swimming a relay, but in a vastly different environment.
Hoover will need to apply the focus he has gained in the pool, as well as his resolve, which has been tested as he dealt with a series of injuries throughout his career. He kept coming back and never lost his determination and drive for the sport.
After breaking his foot earlier this year, Hoover's grit and perseverance were evident during a five-mile swim as part of a team-building activity. Despite being limited to using his arms to trudge on, Hoover stayed focused on the goal and finished with his team.
"When I was swimming with a broken foot, it was at a point where if I was only using one leg, my broken foot would start moving and that would hurt," Hoover said. "I swam the full five miles using only my arms."
In the two relays Hoover competed in at the recent Greater Susquehanna Valley Aquatics League Summer championships, he swam in the back half of the race, swimming the anchor leg of the boys 15-and-over 200 medley relay.
With his team-first attitude, Hoover became a role model for the younger swimmers in the Milton/Warrior Run program.
"It has been an honor to be a part of Zach's life and have him as part of the Rockets swim team family," Irvine said.
While Hoover will be far from his teammates, it is clear that he has made an impact on his club team. In Georgia and beyond, there will be new teammates for him to lead and inspire.
"I am sure (Hoover) will be a good leader in the future," Irvine said.