MITCHELL, S.D. (KELO) — At 12 years old, a Mitchell swimmer was turning heads in 2021. That’s because he was breaking records, one of them set by a current member of the U.S. Olympic swim team.
Owen Raml just turned 13 last month, and he just started swimming competitively two years ago, but he looks right at home in the water at the Mitchell Rec Center.
“I used to swim up at Lake Poinsett my grandparents had a lake cabin there I learned to swim there, so I was always swimming.”
Tom– Were you always fast?
“I guess I really didn’t know but once I started on the swim team,” said Raml.
Owen never set out to be a swimmer, but a couple of his friends are on the Dakota Riptide swim team and talked him into coming with them one day. His coach says he could tell right away there was potential at practice, but it was the competition that brought out the athlete.
“He’s just special, I mean he just broke an Olympian, he’s not a former Olympian he just broke his record I believe from 2010 it’s an 11, 10-year-old record that he just broke in the 200 freestyle broke a couple of other records 400 IM and the 500 free than have been standing a little longer back to 2009 I mean he’s just an athlete,” said Coach Clyde Smith.
The state record Owen broke belonged to Michael Andrew who spent his childhood in Aberdeen before moving to Kansas. Andrew is an Olympic Gold medalist and world champion.
Smith says Owen is very coachable and is always seeking feedback.
“We really just try to nail the little things, he’s a hard worker so we really don’t worry about the effort that goes into a practice, but just kind of keying on the little techniques that will help him continue to progress,” said Coach Smith.
What makes Owen’s success in the pool even more surprising is no one in his family has been involved in competitive swimming.
“My parents were both basketball players,” he said.
The swimming season and the basketball season overlap, in fact when we talked with him Owen, had just come from basketball practice.
“Basketball is team, you gotta get with your teammates and then swimming is all about you that’s why I kind of like a little bit of both, you get a little individual work kind of focus on you,” said Raml.
The good news is he’s not at the point where he has to choose. His coach believes he can take swimming as far as he wants.
“He’s just kind of taken that progression and those steps to kind of if he sticks with it to be on that Olympic level if that is something he chooses to do. I mean when you break kind of that that record of someone who is swimming in the Olympics now that’s got to get you psyched get you pumped it kind of keeps that motivation high and going,” said Coach Smith.
Owen enters the 13 and 14-year-old division and his coach believes he’s already one of the best. The main thing is he enjoys the competition in the water.
“I love it, it’s all you, hear the water rushing by you, it’s fun,” said Raml.
So far Owen has broken three South Dakota records for his age group, the oldest was set 20 years ago by Paul Gordon of Sioux Falls.