Calvin Hulse is hoping to make a big splash at state this year.
The Holmen-Onalaska junior won both the 50-yard freestyle and the 100-yard freestyle events at the Sectional meet in Hudson last weekend, breaking two school records in the process. This weekend, he'll swim in the same events at the state meet in Madison, eyeing a much bigger prize.
"It would be pretty overwhelming standing up on the podium," Hulse said.
Last season he was an inexperienced sophomore competing for his first state title. This season, he's a different swimmer with a different mindset, and knows just what to expect.
"I think I'm faster not only but I think I also have a different level of experience, as opposed to last year," Hulse said. "Not only with state, but just what I've learned from swimming. I'm in the last heat with the fastest guys so i'm ready to race and just go after it."
That's not all that has changed since he last swam at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Natatorium. Jesse Gambrell is finishing his first year as head coach. He was a state participant as well in high school, and is guiding Hulse through the training process.
"He needs to make sure he stays relaxed, stays confident in himself," Gambrell said. "I think he had great swims. I think he knows he had great swims coming in, so it's just a matter of not getting too excited too early, making sure he gets a good night's sleep, eats right, and gets everything prepared, because he's done the work all season. Now it's just a matter of resting and getting the amount of rest and nutrition needed to perform at an optimal level on Saturday."
That being said, Hulse believes there's only so much control you can have over your emotions this week.
"It's the heat before you're supposed to go. You're standing on the blocks, and you're just getting ready to go. You get psyched up a little bit, in your mind, because you're so excited. But that's the best part too, get your adrenaline going. It's pretty fun."
Hulse will be joined by family, friends and teammates at the meet. Action starts Friday in Madison. Hulse swims Saturday afternoon.