SIOUX CITY, Iowa — Former Rock Springs High School swimmer, James Spicer, left Sweetwater County for Sioux City, Iowa with many accolades as a Tiger. As he prepares to begin his sophomore year at Morningside College, Spicer shared the lessons he has learned and his hopes for the remaining three years as a Mustang.
But before Spicer became a collegiate athlete, like many other athletes, he overcame personal adversity that led him to the sport that has given him so much.
In the fifth grade, Spicer underwent double reconstructive surgery on both of his ankles with titanium implants. Due to the surgery, he had to wait a year to participate in basketball and soccer. To make matters worse, he was told that contact sports were no longer a part of his life.
A simple phone call in junior high changed Spicer’s world. A close friend asked him to join a swim meet as they were short one person for a relay. The rest is history.
“I not only enjoyed the meet, but also the atmosphere of the swim meet so much that I’ve never looked back,” Spicer said.
Dominating the Pool
High school swimming consumed Spicer’s life and his hard work instantly paid off in his freshman year with the Tigers swim team as he qualified for state in the 100 backstroke and the 100 butterfly. He returned to the state swimming pool in the same events during his sophomore and junior years and placed. He also earned All-State in the Tigers’ 400 free relay his junior year.
Spicer switched up his events during his senior year and in his words, “it was the best decision I could’ve possibly made.” The seasoned Tiger dominated the pool in the 200 and 500 freestyle, making it to the state meet for the fourth straight year. At the state meet he made the championship finals in both events, and placed 3rd in the 500 freestyle, earning All-State. In addition, he was also nominated for, and won, Academic All-American that same year by RSHS coach, Ron DeFauw.
In case that wasn’t enough, Spicer still holds the pool record in the 100 fly, and he is a part of the pool and school records for the 400 free relay.
“My high school career was a road filled with so many happy memories, and a few bumps along the way.”
Originally Spicer had planned to swim Division I in South Dakota. However, during his visit he was turned off by the cultural expectation of athlete before student at the school and decided to take his talents elsewhere.
Morningside had been a possible landing spot for Spicer, but in order to make the private school possible from a financial standpoint, he had to raise his ACT score to 30 in order to obtain a scholarship.
“I worked hard to raise my ACT and earn the Trustee’s Scholarship and trained harder than I had before, cutting time in almost every event. I knew it had paid off when coach Farris contacted me and told me I was exactly the type of swimmer he was looking for. I scheduled a visit, and as soon as I was done, I knew I’d found my dream school which had both incredible swim and Computer Science programs.
“The day I received my offer, I waited for my parents to get home from work. When we opened the offer, I cried tears of joy and celebrated with my family because I knew I would be attending Morningside in the fall.”
Accomplishments and Future Goals
Since dipping his toes in the collegiate pool, Spicer achieved much throughout his freshman year at Morningside. Spicer made All-Conference by placing 3rd in the mile at the conference meet and qualified in both the mile and the 500 freestyle for Nationals in Georgia this past March. In addition, Spicer is currently on Morningside’s top 10 all-time list in the mile, 1000 freestyle, 500 freestyle, and the 200 fly.
Academically his performances has matched that of his success in the pool. Spicer maintained a 4.0 GPA both semesters, made the Dean’s List twice, was inducted into the Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society, and earned the College Swimming Coaches Association Academic All-American with Full Honors.
“I’m very proud to have had success in both the pool and the classroom,” Spicer said.
With Spicer’s first year behind him, he looks to build upon the foundation of success he has constructed throughout the remainder of his collegiate career.
“My biggest goal academically for the future here at Morningside is continuing to make the Dean’s List at the end of each semester. My top goals in swim are to final at Nationals and to become a team captain who works hard and encourages his teammates to do their best.
“I am looking forward to the next three years as a Morningside Mustang,” Spicer said.