Soldotna High School swimmer Joshua Gemmell will still be making waves next year, though he'll be doing it in a little bit bigger pool.
The Soldotna swimmer recently put his signature on a college letter of intent, accepting a swimming scholarship package to Arizona State University, an NCAA Division I program.
"I'm excited. It's not every day an Alaskan kid gets an opportunity like this," Gemmell said. "You hear about Carlos Boozer and Trajan Langdan and how they went on to successful college careers. I wanted to be one of the first swimmers to be able to do that."
Gemmell received an 80 percent scholarship, covering everything except his meals.
"I think ASU got the better end of the deal, considering how much food that kid can put away," said Gemmell's mother, Carletta.
Gemmell considered several schools before settling on Arizona State, and the Sun Devils chose Gemmell out of nearly 100 potential swimmers.
"I think someone coming from Alaska, and with what he's been able to accomplish in a short period of time, and how much he's improved over the past couple of years, set him apart from most of the athletes we've been looking at," said Victor Wales, an assistant coach at ASU.
Gemmell leaves Alaska as the state record holder in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 56.40, breaking the old mark of 57.36 at last fall's Alaska School Activities Association State Championship.
Gemmell said the most exciting moment of his high school career, though, was teaming with Nick Sorrell, Blake Mann-Schweigert and Lucas Petersen the 400 freestyle relay at the state meet.
"Looking up at Lucas, knowing all we've been through and what it meant to us to win that event, and knowing that our team had swam 100 percent" was special, Gemmell said.
Gemmell said he sold himself to the staff at ASU.
"I get real excited when I start talking about swimming," Gemmell said. "I told them what my goals are, what kind of attitude I bring to the pool, and I let them know what kind of a person I am and what I was going to do for them."
Wales said that after watching Gemmell swim at a meet in Seattle, he was convinced the Gemmell would fit well with the Sun Devils program.
"I wanted to meet Josh and to see him swim and watch his technique," Wales said. "Based on what I saw and his fundamentals, I think he has the potential to do something special."
Gemmell said that the nine-month college season poses a challenge he's ready to take on.
"I think I can be a really good college swimmer," Gemmell said. "Nine months of training is either going to kill me or make me stronger. I think I can handle it."
Academics won't be forgotten along the way, either. Wales said that Gemmell's top priority will be to earn a degree, and Gemmell is planning to major in chemical engineering.
"If I just keep my head straight and focus on what I need to do, (balancing academics and athletics) shouldn't be a problem," Gemmell said.
Gemmell said his goal has always been to swim as fast as he can -- earning a scholarship was just something that happened along the way -- and credited several people for helping him along the way.
"My coaches inspired me, more than anything. My coaches and Lucas, mainly, and my parents, too," Gemmell said. "They've always encouraged me to to do what I want to do."
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