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PREP BOYS SWIMMING: Goshen's Levi Moser set to take flight in last state finals experience

Feb. 22—GOSHEN — Goshen High School senior Levi Moser has the chance to do something a RedHawk hasn't done in a boys swimming event at the IHSAA state finals in 26 years.

Yet, for a few minutes Wednesday before practice at the Goshen Aquatic Center, the bird was the word.

"I love birding, I'm a big-time birder," Moser said before pulling out his phone and taking a look at his life-list which catalogs all 389 birds he's witnessed in his lifetime.

While Moser's take on the Trashmen's 1963 single "Surfin' Bird" is unclear, this senior made his interest outside the pool very clear Wednesday afternoon.

"Peter and I, and our family really started birding during the pandemic," Moser said, referring to his younger brother Peter, a junior on the team. "We got outside and walked around before we had to get on our Zoom meetings for school. I haven't been birding for long, but I've done all right for myself."

"I spent a lot of nights in front of a bird guide," Moser added. "We're a bit obsessed. I'm getting into audio ID too. Peter's better at it than I am, but we're pretty good that if there's a bird call we can tell you what it is."

Moser may have extensive avian knowledge (his current favorite bird is the Layson Albatross, ironically, a waterbird which he saw in Hawaii a few years ago), but his experience and talent in the water is just as impressive.

Take one look at the leaderboard in the Aquatic Center. If you're wondering why blue tape strikes out two records, Moser's head coach has your answer.

"His goal has been to get as many records as possible," third-year head coach Laura Rupp said.

"It's the sort of thing where you have the best time and you're like 'Oh, I want to do that again,' Moser said about setting the school record in the 50-yard freestyle and the 100-yard freestyle this season.

The 50-yarder was broken during the RedHawk Relays on Dec. 2. The 100-yard version of the event came during the Northern Lakes Conference Finals on Jan. 27. Moser was also part of the 2023 team which broke the 200-yard freestyle relay record.

Still, just a few weeks removed from his third record broken during his career, Moser couldn't tell you how the race went.

"I can get in my head a lot, so my best races are when I'm just having fun and we're just going to go out here and do what we do," the senior said. "At conference in that 100-freestyle, I don't remember a single thing. I barely remember being behind the blocks and touching the wall."

And while his name will appear three times on the program leaderboard once the updates are made, he can still leave his imprint on the RedHawk program further this weekend.

No Goshen male swimmer has placed in the championship finals of any swim event since William Wallach placed sixth in the 100-yard backstroke in 1998. Moser, who will compete in the 200-yard freestyle and the 100-yard freestyle at the state's prelims this Friday, will have a chance.

Currently, he's seeded 13th in the 200 but is No. 7 in the 100.

"I'm just gonna go have fun," Moser said. "We'll see what happens. I would love to be podium and the way my times are looking right now, it's totally possible."

Moser also points to this upcoming competition as a time for him to "go out with a bang."

"I don't think I'm going to swim in college," Moser said. "I know there are a lot of people who'd love to see me swim in college but that's probably not where I'm going to end up. I've got other things I like to do besides swim."

Adding that he "wouldn't want to do this without my brother," Moser's joy around the pool and throughout competitions is clearly contagious. His smile, a common expression you can find the senior sporting, tells the story of what his career has been about.

"It's really an honor to watch this happen because you don't get these kids a lot," Rupp said. "It's nice to see that guy that everyone looks up to and everybody wants to be like or be beside. Basically, it's not all about Levi, it's about the team that Levi has created."

A possible career in ornithology is what the decorated senior mentions as the next path for him to take. All of that though is in the future. He has a few more races left. With that in mind, he still has other aspects about the trip to Indianapolis that he'll savor.

"This is what I love about going to state," he said. "This is my favorite part. When we're all at sectionals, all the teams are competing against each other but at state any kind of win we can get against a school like Carmel or Zionsville ... if we see Northridge kids or Concord kids, everyone's cheering. They've (schools like Carmel) been winning for so long and have so much money so anytime we do better than them it's the best."

The best swimmers in the state will be united in one pool come Friday. The top 16 placers from the preliminary round will move on to the consolation and championship finals Saturday. Moser hopes to battle for the podium and make his last wall-tap count. No matter the verdict, he's already flown to great heights.

STATE FINALS AREA DIVING

Bryce Knepp — NorthWood

STATE FINALS AREA SEEDING

200-yard medley relay: Northridge (18th, 1:37.31), Concord (21st, 1:38.04)

200-yard freestyle: Levi Moser (Goshen, 13th, 1:42.10)

200-yard individual medley: Sawyer Lehman (Northridge, 10th, 1:53.46), Ivan Blystiv (Concord, 19th, 1:54.92), Camden Stutsman (Concord, 21st, 1:55.37)

50-yard freestyle: Andrew Williams (NorthWood, 29th, 22.07)

100-yard butterfly: Camden Stutsman (Concord, 27th, 52.26)

100-yard freestyle: Levi Moser (Goshen, 7th, 46.28), Nathan Harper (Wawasee, 13th, 46.79)

500-yard freestyle: Deacon Smith (Northridge, 9th, 4:40.10), Evan Haney (Northridge, 11th, 4:41.35)

200-yard freestyle relay: NorthWood (28th, 1:30.47)

100-yard backstroke: Nathan Harper (Wawasee, 10th, 51.23)

100-yard breaststroke: Sawyer Lehman (Northridge, 8th, 57.67), Ivan Blystiv (Concord, 9th, 58.14)

400-yard freestyle relay: Wawasee (25th, 3:15.68)

Reach Matt Lucas at 574-533-2151, ext. 240325, or at matt.lucas@goshennews.com.