Safety got Snider senior Landan Mintch in the pool at first, but a passion for the sport kept him in it.
Mintch got into swimming at age 5 when his parents bought a cottage on Big Long Lake and wanted their kids to be able to swim safely. His uncle, Bill Close, is a veteran swim coach who is involved with Three Rivers Aquatic Club and was a former director at the Helen P. Brown Natatorium.
Close took upon himself to work with Mintch in the water.
We wanted to make sure they were good swimmers at a young age, said Mintchs father, Lantz. We probably started them earlier than we would normally have. (Close) and his wife were really adamant about them learning to swim at a really young age. They took the initiative to spend time with them in the water.
Mintch eventually began swimming competitively at the TRAC and Arlington Park and later at Snider where he has earned a No. 1 seed in the 50-yard freestyle (21.95) and a No. 3 seed (1:00.05) in the 100 breaststroke at the South Side Sectional today and Saturday.
I definitely took a liking to (swimming) initially, said Mintch, who is the defending sectional champion in the 50 freestyle. At around age 10, I wanted to drop it. All my friends were doing baseball, football, basketball and all the other sports that guys like to try. I tried basketball for two years, fifth and sixth grade, and I tried soccer for a year or two. I swam during that time, but I just added more sports to it.
Nothing clicked like swimming did. This grew to a love for the sport which I have carried through all these years.
Safety also came into play in another way for Mintch. His parents were college gymnasts: Lantz at Indiana (1973-77) and mother Cindy at Indiana State (1982-86). But they steered their children away from that sport because of concerns over their well-being.
Gymnastics is a very dangerous sport, Lantz said.
We are very much into the sport, but we kind of steered them away from it. We both decided we would be more comfortable with them not pursing that sport unless they really, really wanted to.
They brought the issue up a couple of times. We got them involved in swimming, and we never really hurt anything about gymnastics.
Landan, who has signed to swim at IUPUI, is out to improve on his 15th-place finish in the 50 free at the state finals last year by getting into the top eight in the 50 free and 100 breaststroke.